HCS Op-Ed: Jameel McKay and the Cyclones Picking Up Speed in the Big 12

Since inserting Jameel McKay into the starting lineup for Guard Bryce Dejean-Jones, Iowa State is 4-1 with back-to-back conference road wins for the first time since 2006. Credit Fred Hoiberg, who has coached the Cyclones (20-6, 10-4) to a school-record four consecutive 20+ win seasons now, for making an impact move. McKay is finding his stride offensively, and defensively for the Cyclones. In the last five games, McKay is nearly averaging a double-double at 13.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg, and 3.0 blocks; not a bad stat line, not to mention he is shooting 59% from the field and increasing his free-throw percentage each game. The key stat for the Cyclones is his blocks. Iowa State knew that McKay would bring an instant presence at the rim, and he has not disappointed.

McKay’s success has fueled the Cyclones play in the rigorous Big 12. Iowa State currently resides in second place in the conference and remain a game behind (thanks Texas Tech) the Kansas Jayhawks. Coming off a loss to Oklahoma in Norman on Big Monday just two weeks ago, it seemed the road woes would continue for Iowa State. Two huge road wins later at Oklahoma State (one win since ‘88) and at Texas (one win…ever, ‘05) and the 2014-2015 Cyclones have reached F-5 speeds. Dejean-Jones has also responded well as the sixth man off the bench. In decreased minutes, Dejean-Jones is still averaging around 10.0 ppg in the Cyclones last five games. With starters Monte Morris, Dustin Hogue, Naz Long and Georges Niang also performing at a high level, the Cyclones can hope to taste a share of the Big 12 regular season title.

Everything seems to be clicking with the regular season winding down, giving the Cyclones some momentum heading into the conference tournament. With four regular season games remaining, Iowa State cannot afford to get tripped up and needs some help from Kansas State, Texas, West Virginia, and/or Oklahoma to dethrone Kansas from the Big 12 pedastal. Is it too little, too late for the Cyclones? Time will tell. Crazier things have happened, and anybody can beat anybody on a given night in the Big 12. One thing we know: the regular season Big 12 race is going down to the wire.

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