2019 NCAA TOURNAMENT

Selection Sunday reaction: Iowa State excited about NCAA tournament draw

Cyclones meet Ohio State in first round Friday in Tulsa

Iowa State's Marial Shayok cuts down his piece of the net after defeating Kansas in the final of the Big 12 conference tournament Saturday at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. (Amy Kontras/USA TODAY Sports)
Iowa State's Marial Shayok cuts down his piece of the net after defeating Kansas in the final of the Big 12 conference tournament Saturday at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. (Amy Kontras/USA TODAY Sports)

AMES — Just like the Iowa State men’s basketball team has done all year, it will lean on the experience and veteran leadership of Marial Shayok.

It was announced Sunday night that Iowa State would be a No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Cyclones play No. 11-seed Ohio State at approximately 8:50 p.m. Friday in Tulsa, Okla., in the first round.

Shayok is a senior transfer from Virginia. His Virginia teams made the NCAA tournament every season he was there. He was on the Elite Eight team that beat Iowa State in 2016. He and Nick Weiler-Babb are the only two players on the team with NCAA tournament experience.

“We’ve relied on him all year in a lot of different facets,” Coach Steve Prohm said. “He’s been part of some really good Virginia teams and now he’s part of a really good Iowa State team. We’ll look to him for a lot of leadership like we have all year.”

Added Shayok: “(My experience) will help a lot because I know what to expect. But for the young guys, we play best when we’re excited and obviously it’s going to be an exciting atmosphere and the young guys are going to do what they do and give us a big lift.”

Tulsa is a seven-hour drive from Ames and a 6 1/2-hour drive from Des Moines. Freshman guard Tyrese Haliburton is excited that it’s within driving distance for not only the fans, but his family as well.

“Des Moines is ideal, but if you can’t be in Des Moines, the next best spot is Tulsa,” Prohm said. “It’s just a couple hours further than Kansas City. I love where we’re at. We’re within a seven-hour drive for our fans.

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“Whoever you play in the first round is going to be good, especially this time of year. You have to beat a good team to advance in every round ... from the first round to the finals.”

Like Shayok said, Iowa State’s youthful team is excited to experience March Madness.

“Guys are telling us to stay focused and have a good mindset going in,” sophomore guard Lindell Wigginton said. “I think if we have the same mindset we had in Kansas City (for the Big 12 tournament), then we can come out with a lot of wins in the tournament.”

Prohm doesn’t know much about the Big Ten’s Buckeyes — he said he and his coaching staff started watching film Sunday night — but he knows what he needs to see from his team to have success.

“The people that saw those games in Kansas City and watched us play, we won with defense, too,” Prohm said. “That’s what we have to carry over to this tournament.”

One thing Iowa State doesn’t want to carry over to the NCAA tournament is Shayok’s toe injury. He’s said from the beginning that it can’t get worse, but the toe needs to be rested for it to get better.

It was hard to tell in the Big 12 tournament that it was still bothering him — he won the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award — but he was still in a boot for precautionary reasons Sunday.

Because Iowa State’s game is Friday, that gives Shayok another day for his toe to heal.

Even Haliburton said he’s a little sore from the three back-to-back games, so the extra day will be beneficial for everybody to recover.

Like Prohm said, Des Moines would’ve been ideal for Iowa State, but the Cyclones are more than happy to go to Tulsa, especially after the successful Big 12 tournament they just had.

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“I think we have a lot of confidence throughout all of our guys,” senior guard Nick Weiler-Babb said. “You can even see (the excitement) in coach’s eyes a little bit. We just have to keep it up day-by-day.”

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