Iowa State men’s basketball: Cyclones poised for Big 12 second half run


Halfway through the Big 12 season, the Iowa State men’s basketball team finds themselves one game over .500 after a huge victory in Stillwater over Oklahoma State. Looking back at what the Cyclones had to endure in their schedule so far, the second half of the journey won’t be so enduring.

Feb 3, 2014; Stillwater, OK, USA; Iowa State Cyclones guard Matt Thomas (21) along with teammates celebrate a shot sending the game into a third overtime against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Iowa State defeated Oklahoma State in triple overtime 98-97. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

In the first nine games of conference play, Iowa State had to open things up at Texas Tech and then face six top 25 opponents (in the Associated Press poll) in their next eight games. Going into the Big 12 opener was stressful enough even if it was just the Red Raiders; the Cyclones suffered a brutal 56-51 loss at Lubbock last season thanks to dismal shooting.

The next eight games featured six different opponents, and all of them have been ranked in the top 25 at some point this season. Baylor was ranked seventh before the Cyclones triggered the Bears’ freefall, Kansas was ranked 15th and sixth in both meetings respectively, Kansas State was ranked 22nd, Oklahoma was ranked 23rd in the second meeting, and Oklahoma State is currently ranked 19th. Texas, who wasn’t ranked when Iowa State met them, are now ranked 15th.

[Also see: Cyclones defeat Cowboys in triple-OT thriller]

Things change mightily the rest of the way for the Cyclones. Five of the last nine games are at Hilton Coliseum after being on the road five times in the first nine games. There are two meetings against TCU who’s 0-8 in conference play. There’s West Virginia who’s very dangerous but still inconsistent. Both Kansas State and Baylor are unranked and less threatening even though they still are back-to-back road games.

Only two teams are currently ranked in the top 25 – Texas and Oklahoma State – and both of those games are in Ames.

It’s a pivotal moment for Iowa State, rebounding with two straight wins in February after losing four of their last five games in January. This is their chance to blow past the 20-win mark and get a very high seed in the NCAA tournament.