Holmes saves an otherwise sloppy game from the Cyclones – Iowa State Daily

AMES — Iowa State men’s basketball fended off a poor shooting excursion on Sunday to defeat Milwaukee 68-53.

The game wasn’t as clean as the Cyclones had hoped, but defensive pressure made the difference in the end.

By forcing turnovers on each of the first five possessions early in the game, it was clear early on that the Cyclones would be emphasizing ball pressure on Sunday. In the first half of the game alone, Milwaukee flipped the ball 15 times.

“I really liked the energy with which we went into the game,” said head coach TJ Otzelberger. “If you can set the tone like that, it should lead to good things.”

Even though Milwaukee forced all those turnovers, he still hung around in the first half. The Panthers were down 37-26 with a half to play.

The Panthers would end the game with 27 turnovers, with Iowa State picking up 27 points fewer turnovers compared to Milwaukee’s eight.

“Above all, do effort-based things,” said Otzelberger.

Otzelberger mentioned things like offensive rebounding, which the Cyclones had 17 of, as another hustle-based area where Iowa State has been successful. Otzelberger specifically credited Robert Jones for the energy he provided, scoring ten points and grabbing three offensive rebounds.

As a team, the three-point shot just didn’t come for Iowa State. Iowa State shot 6-28 of three, which is just 21.8%.

Aside from the Cyclones having a bad night of shooting, the team also began to get sloppy with basketball in the second half. Iowa State turned the ball over.

“This is partly due to the tiredness that has set in,” says Otzelberger.

Robert Jones finishes with a right hand under the hoop on November 20, 2022 against Milwaukee. (Tyler Coe)

Otzelberger said the team had some deliberate overhaul in training as he tries to instill mental toughness over the course of a long season.

Offensively, one player stood out from the rest and that was Jaren Holmes.

Holmes led the Cyclones in points standings in the season opener and found himself at the top of the scoreboard again on Sunday.

Holmes scored 19 points on 7-17 shooting and added five assists.

“We believe in him as the top scorer,” said Otzelberger.

Otzelberger mentioned that with Gabe Kalscheur only playing a few minutes due to a hip injury, Holmes needed to be promoted for the team and he did. Holmes undoubtedly looked like the right man on Sunday, getting the ball in almost every crucial situation.

Caleb Grill, Aljaž Kunc and Joens each joined Holmes in double digits for the game.

Next up for the Cyclones is the Phil Knight Invitational, which begins Thursday at 2:30 p.m. in Portland, Oregon.