Coming off a lull in their schedule, the Iowa State Cyclones have one final tune-up before they face tougher opponents and little time off between them.
Iowa State (3-0), which hasn’t played since routing Idaho State 86-55 on Nov. 12 in Ames, Iowa, welcomes the Grambling State Tigers (2-2) of the Southwestern Athletic Conference to town on Sunday.
The Cyclones are averaging 91 points per game, surrendering only 48, and facing a Tigers team that is listed as a 24-point underdog.
Then Iowa State will play on Thursday and Friday in the ESPN Events Invitational near Orlando, Fla.
“Having three games in six days comes at you fast. You don’t have quite as much practice time because you’ve got to be mindful of getting ready to play those games,” Iowa State coach T.J. Otzelberger said this week.
“Mentally, keeping our guys focused in those moments, each moment at a time, especially as you have a little bit of success — or perceived success — how do you keep yourself focused on the next play, the next possession, the next practice, the next thing in front of you?” he added.
Otzelberger is “hopeful” and “optimistic” that Tre King will be available on Sunday. The senior forward, one of four Cyclones players averaging in double figures at 11.7 points per game, twisted an ankle vs. Idaho State.
Freshman Milan Momcilovic and junior Keshon Gilbert are averaging 15.3 and 15 points for Iowa State, respectively, with sophomore Tamin Lipsey at 13 per game.
Grambling State, picked to finish second in the SWAC, also has four players scoring in double figures and averages 80.3 points per game.
But the Tigers won’t have the same rest as the Cyclones. Instead, Grambling State will be playing its second game in three days, having lost to Delaware State 71-63 in Atlanta on Friday.
The Tigers are shooting only 24.1 percent from 3-point range, a problem that coach Donte’ Jackson lamented earlier this season.
“We got to take better shots. Some of the shots we’re taking are contested shots. We got to be able to move the ball and take open shots,” Jackson said. “Right now we’re taking contested pull-ups, and that’s not good basketball.”
Kintavious Dozier is netting 14.8 points per game, followed by Jalen Johnson (14.3), Tra’Michael Moton (13.8) and Jourdan Smith (12). Smith also was named the SWAC’s preseason defensive player of the year.
–Field Level Media
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