Talen Horton-Tucker was a star on the Big 12’s big stage
Randy Peterson, email@example.com
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Talen Horton-Tucker looked at the questioner as if he had three eyes.
He was asked at what point in his upbringing he developed the aggressiveness and toughness and tenacity he showed Thursday afternoon.
“I’m from Chicago,” he said, looking bewildered that anyone would dare ask. “Everybody’s tough.”
No kidding. If you didn’t believe it, hit the rewind button on the Cyclones’ overwhelming 83-66 success against Baylor in the quarterfinal round of the Big 12 Conference tournament at the Sprint Center.
The freshman led all scorers with 21 points. In 35 minutes, he had three blocked shots, made five of his nine 3-point attempts, hustled throughout and clearly was the spark that carried Iowa State into Friday’s 6 p.m. semifinal against Kansas State.
“Everybody was calling us soft,” Mr. Chicago-Tough added.
Soft? Not Thursday. Not any Iowa State player.
Especially not the Windy City’s do-it-all.
“Seems like if he’s on, he’s on, and if he’s off, he’s off,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose team beat the Cyclones twice during the season. “The first two times we faced them, he was off. And we faced him now, and he was on, and I thought that opened things up for them.
“He was the major difference.”
Tyrese Haliburton was on the other side of the winning locker room, entertaining — sometimes literally — reporters surrounding his seat. When the Horton-Tucker conversation started on his side of the room, he proclaimed:
“Big-time players have big time games,” Haliburton said. “That’s what he does. I call him ‘Microwave’. He can get hot really quick.”
Haliburton can, too, when he sets his mind on shooting. Like Thursday, when he scored 13 points while canning three of his four 3-point shots. Haliburton, shoot? He shot seven times. He went through a three-game stretch a while back that didn’t include that many attempts.
“You guys have been putting out articles and tweeting about how I’m not aggressive enough and things like that,” Haliburton reminded reporters.