Last night Iowa State upset #25 Xavier 82-70. It is worth noting that Xavier was without All Big-East guard Zach Freemantle. Nonetheless, Xavier still has All Big-East Players type players with Jack Nunge, Paul Scruggs, and Colby Jones. It is still very impressive that the Cyclones were in almost full control of the game for 75% of it. Let’s not forget this is a team that won 2 games last season and has 6 new transfers on it still figuring out how to play together. Last night’s game just goes to show the outstanding job that TJ Otzelberger has done with this program in the first few weeks of his tenure. I know what you’re thinking, it’s one game over the #25 team in the country- clearly a fringe Top 25 team. It’s significant for the Cyclone fan base because this is the first Top 25 win Iowa State has pulled off since December 2019 when they beat Seton Hall in Hilton Coliseum.
Who’s to say that the Cyclones are going to go on to have a big year or not, but this gives us reason to be excited. Iowa State will tip-off Friday night at 8:30 against #9 Memphis and their star-studded freshman, Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren. This next game will be a huge test for the Cyclones to see where they are at right now. Throughout this 5-0 start for Iowa State, we’ve seen very consistent defense and some inconsistent offense. In the first 3 games of the year, even though they scored 84 against Kennesaw State in the season opener, they didn’t shoot the ball very well. Especially from 3, going 1-20 from downtown against Alabama State. However, the offense has picked up over the last two games. They shot 52% against Grambling State and 50% from 3 last night against Xavier. The best part of Iowa State’s first 5 games is absolutely the intensity their defense has been playing with. Especially around the perimeter with their 3 starting guards Izaiah Brockington, Gabe Kalscheur, and Tyrese Hunter. Teams against Iowa State have only shot 24% from downtown this year. The Cyclones are also forcing 18 turnovers per game, 5 games in. The Clones haven’t seen defense like this since potentially as far back as the Larry Eustachy era. We certainly didn’t see it under the Hoiberg and Prohm regimes.
We’re only 5 games into this young season and played 3 teams that are either in the SWAC or the Atlantic Sun. It’s still a big deal for us Cyclone fans because of Iowa State’s 2 wins last season they only came against SWAC schools and, unfortunately, they struggled in those games too. Not only have they looked good in all of their games this year they’ve beaten a Top 25 team and an Oregon State team returns 3 starters from an Elite 8 run last spring. There will certainly be a lot of ups and downs this year, last night being a big up. Even though there will inevitably be some rough losses with how good the Big 12 is, this team gives you a reason to tune in every night. At the end of the day isn’t that all we can really ask for?