AMES — Iowa State men’s basketball coach Steve Prohm isn’t a big fan of roller coasters — at least not metaphorical ones.
He wants his teams to be steady and even-keeled. He’s said multiple times this season that his team can’t ride the highs and lows.
Well, the Cyclones are riding the highs and lows.
Iowa State lost two games in a row at the beginning of Big 12 play, then rattled off six wins in seven games. Now the Cyclones have lost three of their last four, including two straight, one at Hilton Coliseum.
At 7 p.m. Monday at Hilton (ESPN2), No. 20 Iowa State (19-8, 8-6) has an opportunity to right the ship as it hosts Oklahoma (17-10, 5-9), which is battling for an NCAA Tournament bid.
“We’ve got to get back to where we were,” forward Michael Jacobson said after Iowa State’s loss to TCU on Saturday. “For whatever reason, we’re in a funk or something changed. I don’t know what it is, but I think we’ve got a little bit of soul searching.
“We have kind of stumbled or stubbed our toe. Not to say we haven’t done good things, but that’s in the past. You’re trying to build for March and the future. We have to get it right, right now.”
Iowa State only has four games left including the Oklahoma game and two of them are on the road. The other home game is against No. 14 Texas Tech, a team that just throttled No. 12 Kansas 91-62.
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The Cyclones don’t have a “gimme” on their remaining schedule. They’ll have to figure it out against tough teams or in tough environments.
Iowa State has had good halves in its recent run of bad games, including Saturday’s 44-point second half against the Horned Frogs. Iowa State has had players like sophomore Lindell Wigginton and freshman Talen Horton-Tucker step up and make big plays.
But none of it has been consistent.
The Cyclones heavily rely on two freshman and two sophomores. And if young players are known for anything, it’s that they’re inconsistent.
Horton-Tucker is a prime example. He averages 12.2 points per game, best in the Big 12 among freshmen. But in his last four games, he’s scored 14, 7, 20 and 4. That fluctuation has been a trend all season. If Prohm could rely on 10 to 15 points a night instead of 4 to 20, his life would be much easier.
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