The No.23 Iowa State took on the North Dakota Fighting Hawks in this Wednesday night matchup with a winning score of 63-44. Although the Cyclones only led by two at half, they eventually pulled away thanks to hot shooting from their guards. Senior guard Caleb Grill led all scorers with 16 points. The Cyclones were fortunate enough to bounce back from the tough championship loss to UConn in the PKI tournament and are now 6-1 in the early season at the end of November.
Here are my three takeaways:
Grill regains the hot hand
After an epic 31-point performance against #1 North Carolina in the semi-final of the PKI in Portland over the holiday break, Grill’s hot hand cooled down in the championship game Sunday night against UConn.
However, Grill bounced back from his 1-point UConn performance with a strong 16 point game while shooting 80% from three. Grill’s impact came from other areas as well.
Grill managed to grab 5 rebounds and 3 steals while committing zero fouls in 34 minutes of play. Grill is using his energetic motor to be a menace on defense at a high efficiency.
If Grill can implement him as this team’s consistent shooter and an efficient defender, it’s only going to bring the Cyclones success down the road as the competition level increases.
Grill is now shooting 37% from the field and averaging 10.2 points on the year.
Lipsey coming into his own
Day by day, Lipsey looks more and more comfortable in the starting point guard position as a true freshman. The freshman guard had 11 points, 4 assists and 4 steals in 33 minutes of play in Wednesday’s game. Lipsey shot an impressive 71% from the field as well.
Lipsey is starting to look for his number more and taking advantage of teams not looking at him as a scorer. He’s getting to the rim a lot more and isn’t as hesitant to let it fly from behind the arc.
You can see the coaching staff is trusting in him more and more to run the offense but to also look for his shot when the read is there. He looks very poised in his decision making and is a pest on the defensive end.
If Lipsey and Grill can continue this strong defensive start to the season, they will make it tough for any backcourt they take on this year.
Jones and Watson strong bench play.
The fan favorite, Senior forward Rob Jones continues to be the spark off the bench Iowa State needs in what can be a stagnant offense at times. Jones had 10 points and 5 rebounds and 1 steal off the bench in 19 minutes of play, Wednesday night.
Jones is showing so much more confidence and has made a big offensive jump this season and it sometimes digs Iowa State out of those slow starts early in games.
Jones needs to continue bringing that Rob Jones energy to continue to help this Cyclones squad. Jones is averaging 7 points on a 51% Field Goal percentage.
Freshman guard Demarion Watson was a beast on the boards once again. Watson grabbed 10 rebounds, 1 block and knocked down a three in 22 minutes of play.
Although his minutes were spotty in Portland, whenever Watson gets some on-court action, he shows great spurts. He’s really bought into that 8th/9th man role and is making the best out of his situation.
The Cyclones have a few days to rest and regroup before they take on undefeated St. Johns in the Big 12/Big East Challenge on Sunday, December 4th in Hilton Coliseum at 2:00 PM on ESPN2.