24. Iowa State (14-4)
Nothing comes easy in this sport, but T. J. Otzelberger and this program have done a great job of taking what they can. This program made a surprise Sweet Sixteen two seasons ago and might have the talent to repeat that feat this year. We didn’t learn much about the Cyclones in nonconference play, though last week’s home win over Houston certainly was the boost this team needed.
This week was significantly tougher and started on the wrong foot, with the Cyclones falling 87-72 at BYU back on Tuesday night. Keshon Gilbert led the way with 16 points but Iowa State couldn’t contain the Cougars’ offense on the road. Things ended much better this weekend, as the Cyclones built a big halftime lead and hung on for a 73-72 road win at TCU. Gilbert scored 20, Curtis Jones added 17 points and 7 assists, and this team did just enough to topple the Horned Frogs.
While there’s some undeniable magical energy at home for the Cyclones, they did great work in beating a ranked team on the road this week. Life is going to be hectic for every team in this Big 12 this season and the Cyclones are keeping afloat on both sides of the ball. Look for Tamin Lipsey and company to get that defense back on track ahead, with home games against the two Kansas squads.