The Cyclones have already half as many wins as their 2020-2021 campaign. Iowa State won 84-73 against the Kennesaw State Owls tonight. TJ Otzelberger got his 100th career win as a head coach, and his first win as the head man at Iowa State.
The first half was understandably sloppy. The teams combined for over 30 turnovers in the first half, and an abundance of fouls on both sides. If the entire season is called this close, it could be a long one for the Cyclones. The whistles were often and abundant Tuesday night.
Five Cyclones would finish with four or more fouls. Izaiah Brockington, Tre Jackson, and George Conditt all fouled out. Kennesaw State also had two players foul out including their leading scorer from last season.
I don’t expect for every crew to be this active, but if they are, foul trouble will do nothing to help the limited depth of the Cyclones. The Cyclones have 10 scholarship players and Jaden Walker was the only one that didn’t get playing time tonight.
As far as debuts, Brockington and Hunter both seem as good as advertised. Both were plagued with foul trouble but were still able to leave their impact on the game. Brockington finished with 18 points and 6 rebounds. Hunter had 11 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Gabe Kalscheur led the team in turnovers, and struggled from the line. Kalscheur did look comfortable in the corner 3, and I would expect to see plenty more of those this season.
It wasn’t a perfect game, but the Cyclones were able to hold off a late push by the Owls. They played smart down the stretch. The Cyclones had an excellent possession under a minute with plenty of ball movement and it led to an easy Kalscheur layup to put the Cyclones up 12 late. Iowa State showing poise late in the game is a good sign for a team trying to be competitive in the Big 12.
Turnovers should decrease as the season goes on, and the Cyclones, many of whom are new, get more playing time with each other. The defense looked intense for stretches, but it did falter at times as Kennesaw State was able to get their fair share of easy looks in the paint.
My biggest takeaway is this team felt engaged start to finish. This was a team that wanted to win from the tip. If Otz can get this team to buy in, they could steal some games where they’re outgunned and outmanned.
The Cyclones will have a big test this Friday when Oregon State comes to town. The Beavers are coming off of a surprise Elite 8 run last March, and are looking to be at the top of the Pac 12 this season.