Losing multiple key contributors from last season’s Sweet 16 team seemingly left prognosticators little to desire about Iowa State.
Don’t look now, but the team picked to finish eighth in the Big 12 is 12-2 overall and 3-0 in conference play and looking for more as Texas Tech visits Tuesday night.
After opening Big 12 play with a home romp against Baylor, No. 14 Iowa State this week edged Oklahoma and No. 17 TCU by a combined five points on the road.
On Saturday, Gabe Kalscheur’s 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds to play lifted the Cyclones to a 69-67 victory against the Horned Frogs.
“I just think it shows our will to win no matter what odds are stacked against us,” said Iowa State’s Jaren Holmes, who scored 10 points at TCU. “We’re not trying to prove people wrong. We’re just proving ourselves right every single day.”
That approach has helped steer the Cyclones to a 3-0 start in the Big 12 for the first time since 1999-2000 while producing plenty of optimism.
Albeit of the cautious variety.
“Obviously, it’s great. It’s so hard to win in this league. It’s so hard to win on the road,” Iowa State coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “We just have to keep getting better every day. It’s early January. It’s a long conference season. It’s just one day at a time.”
Texas Tech (10-5, 0-3) is in search of its first conference victory of the season after a succession of nail-biters in the past week.
From Dec. 31 through Saturday, the Red Raiders lost by six at TCU, by three to visiting No. 3 Kansas, and by five to visiting Oklahoma in overtime.
The Red Raiders are 0-3 to begin league play for the first time since 2014-15 but are not at full strength. Starters Daniel Batcho (finger) and Pop Isaacs (head) both were injured in the closing stages against the Jayhawks.
After trailing by 13 points midway through the second half, the Red Raiders scored eight of the final 10 points of regulation to force overtime.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Texas Tech coach Mark Adams said. “We were short-handed and I thought that we played hard for over 40 minutes, then even in the overtime. Some of our guys got a little fatigued because we didn’t have the depth that we normally do, but certainly proud of our guy’s hearts and how hard they wanted to win. After the game, it was a very emotional locker room and these guys love winning and hate losing. There’s no doubt in my mind we’re going continue to get better. It’s going to be a fun team to watch in another month.”
De’Vion Harmon tied a career high with 23 points for the Red Raiders, including 21 in the second half, while Kevin Obanor had 15 points and seven rebounds.
The all-time series between the schools is tied at 20 victories apiece. Texas Tech enters on a two-game series winning streak and has won eight of the past 10.
–Field Level Media