AMES — Iowa State’s beginning to the Big 12 portion of its schedule hasn’t been an easy one.
Three of the five games have been or will be on the road, one of the two home games was against then-No. 3 Kansas and the final two road games are against ranked opponents.
Iowa State’s game on Wednesday is against No. 2 Baylor in Waco, Texas.
Baylor beat Kansas in Lawrence handily Saturday, 67-55. The Bears’ only loss this season was on a neutral court to Washington in their second game of the season.
In Saturday’s convincing win against Oklahoma, Iowa State Coach Steve Prohm changed his starting lineup and went to his bench early and often. It’s a recipe that worked for the Cyclones in that game and it’s a recipe he’s hoping will continue to work.
“I want to handle (this) like we did the other night where we’re going to sub and give these guys confidence to play and go with what’s working,” Prohm said. “I want to stretch our bench out and give them confidence so we can stay fresher and compete better. The other night against Oklahoma we just competed so much better and our energy was great.
“We want to feed off of what we did the other night. If the bench goes in and plays well, then we’ll roll with that, if not, then we’ll go back to the beginning and go from there.”
That’s different from what Prohm has done in the past. In his first four years at Iowa State, he played only seven, maybe eight, guys. But all but one of those teams had four, five or, in the case of the 2015-16 team, six future NBA players and another two or three European league players on them.
He didn’t need to have a deep bench because his starters were so good.
Kansas Coach Bill Self said Iowa State has had the best talent in the league, besides Kansas, in recent years.
ISU’s Tyrese Haliburton is a sure-fire NBA player and he’ll be the constant in Iowa State’s lineup. But Prohm recognizes he needs to have a deeper bench, not just to keep guys fresher but because he can roll with different lineups depending on who Iowa State is playing.
Against Oklahoma, a team without any true post players, Iowa State went small and had success. Baylor, on the other hand, is a big, physical team that likes to put pressure on opponents defensively.
“Every game is going to be so different — do we need physicality, do we need defense, do we need to spread the floor and move as fast as we can?” Prohm said. “Guys have to buy into that and when they do, it makes things easier to coach. But the main thing is having a deeper bench does is it gives us a chance to be successful.”
Solomon Young was the person George Conditt replaced in the starting lineup on Saturday. While he was obviously disappointed, Prohm said Young played with the most energy he had all season and Prohm wants him to keep it up against Baylor.
“He really responded well and this is a game against Baylor where we’re going to need his physicality and size against (Freddie) Gillespie, (Tristan) Clark and (Mark) Vitale,” Prohm said.
Because of Baylor’s ball pressure, and because of the defensive pressure that’s focused on Haliburton anyway, off-ball movement will be key against the Bears.
Iowa State’s best back-cutter is substitute Terrence Lewis.
“Teams are loading up on me, doubling me and making me pass and making other guys beat them,” Haliburton said. “We did well the other night and the longer that goes on, the more confidence the other guys are going to get.
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“Terrence is probably the best back-cutter we have on this team. He can really space the floor and shoot really well. He plays best with someone like me on the court who is drawing defenders to get him open looks. He’s helping a lot and he’ll continue to help.”