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Iowa State Cyclones harass, defeat Milwaukee Panthers
Iowa State men’s basketball improves to 3-0 ahead of game against Villanova
AMES — Five.
That’s how many times Milwaukee turned the ball over in succession to start Sunday’s game against Iowa State, which rolled to a flawed, but workmanlike 68-53 win at Hilton Coliseum.
The Cyclones (3-0) forced 15 turnovers in the first half and 27 overall while improving to 16-0 under head coach T.J. Otzelberger in non-conference games.
“I feel like it was a great overall stretch for us,” said ISU guard Jaren Holmes, who scored a team-high 19 points while dishing out a game-high five assists. “We turned them over 27 times and that’s what we pride ourselves on every single day. It’s a staple of this team.”
That staple — stringent defense — remained firmly fastened all 40 minutes even as the Panthers (2-2) used a late 11-0 run to shave the Cyclones’ lead to 11 with 4:50 to go.
ISU missed all 14 of its 3-point attempts in the second half and struggled at times against Milwaukee’s full-court pressure, but scored 28 points off of turnovers to help secure the relatively stress-free win.
“I really loved the energy we started the game with,” Otzelberger said. “Our defensive intent — our guys were terrific. Certainly when we set the tone that way it should lead to good things.”
Caleb Grill added 11 points for ISU, while Robert Jones and Aljaz Kunc chipped in 10 points apiece. Demarion Watson, Jones and Kunc each grabbed three offensive rebounds, helping the Cyclones build a 17 to 8 advantage in that important statistical category.
“Specifically, Rob, I thought gave us tremendous energy when he came in,” Otzelberger said. “So when you’re not shooting the ball well, you’ve got to do a great job taking care of the ball, pressuring the ball and turning your opponent over, and then doing a great job on the glass. For the most part, we were pretty good in those three areas.”
ISU bolted to an early 8-0 lead, but the Panthers pulled within five, at 24-19, with 7:11 left in the first half.
Milwaukee sank 50 percent of its early field-goal attempts when it managed to maintain possession, but the Cyclones used a 10-2 run capped by Holmes’ second 3-pointer to forge a double-digit lead that swelled to as many as 24 points in the second half.
ISU limited the Panthers to 36.4 percent shooting in the first half and outscored them 16-1 in points off turnovers. The Cyclones shot 6-of-14 (42.9 percent) from 3-point range before halftime — though that solid early effort was aided by banked-in long-range baskets from Grill and Kunc. As for the 0-of-14 performance from beyond the arc in the second half?
“Coaching, all coaching,” Otzelberger said with a grin. “Our guys all work hard. They’re gonna make shots. We’ve just got to get our shots in rhythm and we had a little bit of separation there and felt like guys were playing heavier minutes than they’re used to, so some legs were heavy out there for sure.”
One reason for the higher than usual minutes loads: Veteran guard Gabe Kalscheur played just six minutes before exiting the game for good.
“He got hit in the hip (Saturday) in practice, so he has a bruise that when he got out there, he wasn’t moving great,” Otzleberger said. “I give him a lot of credit for giving it a go because I know he’s in a lot of pain. We’ll get him some rest and hopefully he’ll be back soon."
The Cyclones are off until Thursday when they face Villanova (2-2) to open the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland, Ore.
“This is a great challenge,” Otzelberger said. “It’s a great opportunity to go out and play a program like Villanova.”