The Drive with Heather Burnside and Sean Roberts

The Drive with Heather Burnside and Sean Roberts

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Cyclones' undefeated home record on the line against No.20 BYU

West Virginia v Iowa State

Photo: David Purdy / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Wednesday night provides the recently crowned No.6 Cyclones (23-6, 12-4) an opportunity to make history. It has been over 20 years since Iowa State went undefeated in Hilton Coliseum. To achieve this feat, Iowa State must overcome No. 20 BYU (21-8, 9-7) who handled the Cyclones back in Provo, UT at the start of January 87-72. 

Much has changed since that January loss, and I truly believe that the Cyclones owe a thank you to the Cougars because that loss changed the intensity of this squad by them winning 10 of the last 12. TJ Otzelberger has guided his team from being picked to finish seventh in the conference to now a projected 3-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Tomorrow’s late-night tip (8. pm) gives the fans and experts one last glimpse of one of the Big 12’s best defenses and offenses battling it out. Making this feel more like a late March meeting than a regular season finale. 

Can’t let the Cougars get comfortable from three

BYU currently leads the Big 12 in PPG averaging 82.7 and has continued to find success in spreading the floor and getting the ball into the hands of their primary shooters. Iowa State’s third-best defense in the nation (among power five schools) was slapped in the face back in January allowing BYU to control the pace and find a home beyond the arc. It did not help that this marked the first of only two times this season Iowa State would turn the ball over more than its Big 12 opponent, but credit to BYU who made use of those extra possessions. The Cougars finished with what would be the most three the Cyclones would allow up to this point converting on 13 of their 35 three-point attempts. Iowa State would only manage to connect on 4 of their 14 shots. 

Scoring came easy for the Cougars, who Spencer Johnson led with his 28-point performance along with four other members scoring 12+ in the box score. Again, Iowa State fell short of matching the offensive display with Milan Momcilovic and Keshon Gilbert being the only two Cyclones putting together double-digit performances. 

Cougars will be introduced to the new and improved Curtis Jones

No one has grown more since the BYU loss than Curtis Jones who has since scored in double figures in 12 consecutive games. Coming off of the bench as the team’s most consistent player and has raised his status from the guy that gives Gilbert and Tamin Lipsey time to rest, to now a Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year candidate. Shooting 40% from the arc, Jones continues to provide a spark to an offense that has had its ups and downs. 

Since their emotional road loss to the now No.1 Houston Cougars, the Cyclones have failed to get out to a fast offensive start. Falling behind the Conference’s bottom team West Virginia in Ames 11-2 in the first four minutes of action. And only led by five at the half against a rough Oklahoma squad. These slow starts cannot happen against such an offensive-minded team like BYU. 

Jones being looked upon as the offensive spark can’t continue to happen either. Gilbert has been a force offensively being able to create his shots in traffic, but there are some concerns regarding Lipsey's struggles. 

Against ranked opponents this season, the star guard has only been able to put up close to 9 points. In the last three games against the Big 12’s 9th, 11th, and last-place teams Lipsey combined for an average of 8 points with last week’s 2-point game against UCF. 

BYU will be a long way from home and their 2-5 conference road record should give Cyclone fans confidence. With a packed Hilton and history on the line, Iowa State should find success in their revenge game against the Cougars more than solidifying their 2-seed in the Big 12 Conference Tournament. 

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