No. 11 Iowa State will strive to remain among the ranks of the unbeaten when it entertains Southeastern Louisiana on Sunday afternoon at Ames, Iowa.
The Cyclones (10-0) have matched the second-best start in program history. The only time Iowa State enjoyed a longer season-opening streak of success is when the 2013-14 team won its first 14 games.
Cyclones leader T.J. Otzelberger is just the fourth first-year coach in Big 12 history to win his first 10 contests. Missouri’s Frank Haith won his first 14 in 2011-12 while Oklahoma State’s Sean Sutton (2006-07) and Texas A&M’s Billy Gillispie (2004-05) each won their first 11.
Despite all the accolades, Iowa State is coming off its worst performance of the season.
The Cyclones shot just 34.9 percent from the field and posted their lowest scoring output of the season in a 47-37 home win over Jackson State on Dec. 12.
“Look, that certainly wasn’t the game offensively that we hoped it would be,” Otzelberger said. “At the same time, how we built momentum in our habits is in our defense and our rebounding. We counted on those habits and they showed up for us.”
Iowa State forced 22 turnovers, marking the fourth time it has forced 20 or more this season.
Aljaz Kunc made all three of his 3-point shots and was the game’s leading scorer with a modest 12 points.
“I think we did a pretty decent job of not turning it over, but we just have to get great shots,” Kunc said. “We can’t settle for good shots.”
Leading scorer and rebounder Izaiah Brockington was among the players who couldn’t get going and had nine points for his third single-digit outing of the season. Brockington, who averages 16.6 points and 7.7 boards, has topped 20 on four occasions.
Gabe Kalscheur (11.6) and Tyrese Hunter (11.0) also score in double figures for the Cyclones. Hunter paces Iowa State in assists (5.2) and steals (24).
Southeastern Louisiana (4-7) has dropped five of its past six games and is coming off an 86-60 road loss to Louisville on Tuesday.
Keon Clergeot scored a season-high 21 points for the Lions and is averaging 17.3 over the past four games. Clergeot was 2 of 5 from 3-point range on a night in which Southeastern Louisiana was just 6 of 33 behind the arc.
Clergeot is averaging 12.5 points, just behind leading scorer Gus Okafor (12.8). The slumping Okafor is averaging just 5.0 points over the past three games.
Jalyn Hinton averages 11.5 points and leads the Lions in rebounding (7.5) and blocked shots (22).
Overall, Southeastern Louisiana averages 78.7 points per game.
“We want to play fast but we want to make sure we take the right shots,” Lions coach David Kiefer said recently of the team’s approach.
The game at Iowa State is the seventh in a stretch of eight games in which Southeastern Louisiana plays on neutral or away floors. The club’s only win during the span was 72-68 at Troy on Dec. 5.
The Lions and Cyclones are meeting for the first time.
–Field Level Media