No. 12 Iowa State took on No.5 Kansas State in front of a sold out crowd at Hilton Coliseum. Iowa State came out on top 80-76 and are now sitting in first place in Big 12 play at 6-2. Iowa State has now gained their third top 10 AP win of the season.
Jaren Holmes led the Cyclones in scoring with 23 points and Kansas State’s Markquis Nowell poured in 23 points, respectively. Before firing off three takes on Tuesdays night’s game, it’s only necessary to give one individual their flowers for showing the true heart of a Cyclone: Caleb Grill.
Starter Caleb Grill was a game time decision due to some back stiffness he has been dealing with since the Texas game on January 17th. Grill’s averaging 10.0 points and 4.2 rebounds per contest and has been a huge part of the offense for the Cyclones this year shooting an outstanding 41% from the field.
Grill had 11 points against Texas and since then, his offensive impact has fallen off dramatically.
Last Saturday, Grill played 17 minutes against Oklahoma State and had an underwhelming performance missing his only three that he would attempt in contest. This was a nerve wrecking sign for Cyclones fans knowing that No. 5 Kansas State was coming to Ames the following Tuesday.
Grill decided to give it go Tuesday night and suit up for Iowa State. Grill multiple times in the game was grabbing his lower back in pain and was wearing a back brace on the bench.
While this contest for Grill was no UNC performance, Grill showed an immense amount of mental toughness and showed his team how much this game meant to him. “He’s such a competitor; When he’s on the court, our guys know how much he wants to win” said Coach Otzelberger when talking about Grill’s attitude about playing Tuesday night.
Grill played 25 minutes Tuesday night, and fired up a few quick three's not connecting on any. This all changed in the 5:33 mark of the second half after Kansas State had cut a 10 point deficit to just a one point game.
Guard Gabe Kalscheur pulled up for a jumper that didn’t connect and point guard, Tamin Lipsey came in for the offensive board, kicked it out low and behold Caleb Grill. Grill sunk the three and Hilton erupted with joy.
After hitting the huge three to put Iowa State up 63-59, Grill got a crucial late game stop defensively that kept the Cyclones ahead at a time when you could visibly see Grill in discomfort. Grill also knocked down a pair of what would be game sealing free throws with 0:11 seconds left in the contest.
Grill’s grit and toughness was on full display and his teammates and the fans were very appreciative off his efforts. “I knew he was playing; That’s one tough Joker” said Kansas State Head Coach Jerome Tang.
Whether he’s playing at a high level or not, it’s safe to say the Big 12, Cyclone Nation and his teammates all gained another level of respect for Caleb Grill Tuesday night. “It just shows his overall toughness, will to win and just the type of person he is overall; who would’ve thought he would’ve played tonight” said Senior Jaren Holmes.
We can anticipate Grill will sit out for the Missouri game to prevent any worsen injury to his lower back.
Now onto my three thoughts:
Jaren Holmes and Gabe Kalscheur were straight gamers.
Seniors Jaren Holmes and Gabe Kalscheur where huge in a game that needed their highest level of play. Holmes had 23 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists, one block, shot 8-11 from the field and 66% from three in 38 minutes of play. Kalscheur scored 19 points, shot 7-11 from the field and 40% from behind the arc in 40 minutes of play.
Holmes did an outstanding job getting Iowa State back in the game back in the game when they fell behind early, then proceeded to hit big shot after big shot. He was in a full offensive groove and Hilton loved every second of it.
Holmes was doing a great job not being trigger happy and getting most of his points at the rim using his strong frame to result in easy buckets whether it was off the drive or cutting to basket. Holmes also did a great job operating in the mid-range, floater game. This made Holmes’ game rather unpredictable at times and was bad news for the opposition.
Kalscheur was getting to his spots with ease and was either knocking down shots or getting to the foul line. Kalscheur operated in the mid-range all night and it usually came when Iowa State really needed some points. He also hit two crucial threes in the first half to bring them back from their first half deficit.
With under 1:30 left in the game, Kansas State forward Keyonte Johnson scored a strong layup to bring Kansas State’s deficit to just two and in the process sent Gabe Kalscheur to the floor. No foul was called.
Kalscheur responded the best one could after that taking place.
With 53.8 seconds left, Kalscheur came off a double screen set by Lipsey and Grill, then a dribble hand off from Holmes and then a top of the key ball screen from Osunniyi and got a few feet in across the three point line and hit the most crucial shot of the night, nothing but nylon. Cyclones would go up 75-71 and close the game out from the free throw line.
Gabe Kalscheur has hit a handful of clutch shots this month and this shot might have been the sweetest.
Senior forward Osun Osunniyi had one of the more officiant games of the night with 16 points, 2 blocks and shot 57% paint. Osun’s post game is so poised and he knows exactly where the ball is coming that he’s never rushing a post move. He knows his spots like no other and is so effective in those areas.
This come from the team chemistry he already has with former St. Bonaventure teammate Jaren Holmes. Holmes knows exactly where Osunniyi wants the ball, therefore it just comes down to Osunniyi having to carve out space to either go up strong with the ball or get to the foul line.
Defensively Osunniyi is a professional glass cleaner which adds some much more edge to this already strong defensive team. This came with ease Tuesday night as it felt like Osunniyi had far more than just 16 points.
His biggest play came with 3:52 left in the game, Iowa State up 66-64 after slipping a screen Tamin Lipsey drew two defenders and lobbed the ball over the top to Osunniyi who threw the hammer down on Kansas State’s Keyonte Johnson. Osunniyi is being more and more of a dominant force in crucial games and the Cyclones are gonna need that production going into Columbia this Saturday.
The Kid from Ames.
The thing about Tamin Lipsey is you knock him down 10 times, the kids going to get up 11. That was the attitude the true freshman guard played with Tuesday night.
Lipsey played his most complete game in one of the biggest games of the year. The true freshman point guard had 10 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and one block on 50% true shooting.
Lipsey was everywhere last night doing a little bit of everything while also carrying the load for a not 100% Caleb Grill. This is because Grill is Iowa State’s leading rebounder and it goes undervalued how much help Grill is on the boards.
Lipsey sought this opportunity and capitalized. Four of Lipsey’s six rebounds where on the offensive end and majority of them resulted in second chance points or kick out opportunities for threes.
Lipsey also did a phenomenal job with his on-ball and help side defense. Getting in the passing lanes and being disruptive led to turnovers from Kansas State. Lipsey is never afraid to make winning plays and right now is playing far beyond his years.
Lipsey is going to have to continue to not be afraid of the moment as the Cyclones may be down another man for a bit going forward. Lipsey might have to carry more of the offensive load at times, regardless he needs to be ready to do so.
Coach Otzelberger has preached all year ‘next man up’ and that next man is Tamin Lipsey.
Iowa State (15-4) takes on Missouri (15-5) in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge down in Columbia this Saturday, January 28th (ESPN2) @1:OO.