After facing top of the line competition all week in the Battle 4 Atlantis while the rest of the student body was on break, Iowa State will take on the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) Kangaroos on Wednesday.
The Cyclones are coming off of a 1-2 tournament in the Bahamas after playing now No. 4 Michigan and No. 16 Seton Hall. They also played Alabama, who provided their only win during the competition.
Before they play the Kangaroos, the Cyclones are making sure they don’t underestimate their opponent.
“Any competition is good competition,” said sophomore forward George Conditt IV. “Anybody can beat anybody. They just have to come in with the right mindset.”
UMKC provides a tough test for the Cyclones when it comes to non-conference opponents, but the Kangaroos are a far cry from the elite teams that they faced last week.
Something the Cyclones took away from the Bahamas on the positive end was their three-point shooting. Iowa State improved its distance shooting immensely, which gave them the chance to beat Michigan and Seton Hall.
The epicenter of this change was sophomore guards Tyrese Haliburton and Rasir Bolton. Haliburton had struggled from three before heading to the Bahamas, which saw him turn in three of his best shooting and scoring performances of his career.
Bolton — who coming into the season had a lot of high hopes riding on his ability to shoot from outside — came alive and propelled the Cyclones to their one victory over Alabama thanks to a dominant performance from beyond the arc.
“It just went in for me,” Bolton said. “It finally went in in a game.”
Coach Steve Prohm didn’t mention the shooting as much as he mentioned another key problem facing the Cyclones in some games early — defense.
Defense hasn’t been horrible for Iowa State, and the Cyclones have even turned in some solid defensive performances — most notably against Northern Illinois, which they held to only 52 points.
Over the last week, however, Iowa State has been beatable on that end of the court. In each game it played, Iowa State gave up more than 80 points, with the lowest coming to Michigan at 83.
Seton Hall and Michigan shot over 50 percent against the Cyclones, and while Alabama shot only 41.9 percent, the Crimson Tide were still able to put up 89 points thanks to 12 threes and 18 offensive rebounds.
“[We] really just gotta be dialed in defensively,” Prohm said. “If we can grow on the defensive end and mature and get these guys really focused that way we can have a good basketball team.”
This will be the test for Iowa State as it hosts UMKC, because right after this game, the Cyclones will face a rematch with Seton Hall, and if they let the Pirates shoot like they did last time, it’ll probably have a similar result.
First, the Cyclones have the Kangaroos, and they aren’t a walk in the park with a 5-4 record and a serviceable, albeit 18-point, loss to Oklahoma State.
Prohm will look to clean things up prior to conference play, which is right around the corner for the Big 12.
Source: Iowa State Daily