AMES — After a two-week stretch of not playing basketball due to a COVID-19 outbreak, Iowa State returned to action on Monday with only eight available players — six scholarship players — and lost to Oklahoma State.
On Saturday, Iowa State (2-8) plays Mississippi State (9-8) in the Big 12-SEC Challenge in Starkville, Miss., with a roster that’s still depleted.
“Our guys are doing well but I don’t know how much our roster will change,” Iowa State Coach Steve Prohm said. “We might possibly have one guy back. Whether they play or not, I’m not sure.”
Prohm said Jalen Coleman-Lands, who was out against Oklahoma State, was in the gym shooting Thursday. He wouldn’t, however, commit that Coleman-Lands would be the one potential player able to make his return.
“Man, he has a smile on his face and he’s excited,” Prohm said of Coleman-Lands. “I know Solomon Young is champing at the bit to get back in here and so are Tre (Jackson) and Javan (Johnson). The bolt of energy that those guys bring will be really, really important.”
But until they are able to return, Iowa State will need to rely on its three freshmen who all got their first big minutes in a Big 12 game.
“We showed them tape the other day and I thought it was really good because we had 20 or 30 minutes worth of tape to show them,” Prohm said. “It was the first time they had played extended minutes in that type of environment. Hopefully this next game they’ll get a little bit more experience and a little bit more mature and be able to compete a little bit better on the glass.”
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Competing better on the glass is something Iowa State desperately needs to do against Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs boast three players 6-foot-10 or taller who get significant playing time. Tolu Smith is the anchor down low. He averages 12.7 points and 8.6 rebounds — 3.6 offensive rebounds. That was an area Oklahoma State dominated Iowa State, outrebounding the Cyclones 49-19 with 13 offensive rebounds.
Iowa State needs its lone post player, George Conditt, to stay out of foul trouble. Conditt only played 16 minutes against the Cowboys because of foul trouble.
“George has the size to go against their big men,” Prohm said. “He needs to stay out of foul trouble but still compete the right way and protect the rim for us. He needs to be a huge defensive presence for us.”