If the ball is heading toward the rim off an ISU player's hands, your best bet is that Chris Allen is launching the shot. Fortunately for the senior guard, who has attempted a team-high 255 shots this season, most of his attempts lately have trickled through the net.
Allen led the Cyclones (18-7, 8-4 Big 12) in scoring in both of their last two games, including a career-high 25 in Iowa State's 69-46 home win against Texas A&M on Saturday.
"The guys did a great job of finding Chris, who really got it going tonight," said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg following the game. "It's been great to see him play like we all knew he could play."
The transfer from Michigan State bounced back on Saturday after scoring a team-high 22 points at Oklahoma State but having his final shot attempt at the buzzer blocked by OSU freshman LeBryan Nash.
"I'm proud of him to see him come back from being down after the last play of the last game and being down about that, and we all told him to keep his head up," said sophomore forward Royce White. "[For Chris] to come out and have a big game like this and for all of us to have a big game like this and respond to that loss is the biggest thing. He was the igniter to that."
Allen has made 24 of 50 field goals, including 17 of 29 in his 3s, over his last four games. The key to his recent offensive numbers, he said, has been extra trips to the gym each day and understanding the importance of Iowa State playing its best basketball as the regular season winds down.
"This is the time where if your team is not at the highest peak or peaking, then there's really no point for you to even keep playing," Allen said. "The teams are so much hungrier when it gets around this time."
Allen has plenty of experience playing on a "hungry" team as he made back-to-back trips to the Final Four with the Spartans in 2008 and 2009. Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy saw Allen play while on the recruiting trail back in 2006-07 when he was a senior at Meadowcreek High School (GA).
"He's been through the grind being a fifth-year senior, [and] you could see we didn't have an answer for him," Kennedy said. "He's got a special talent and offensively he's really, really good."
In one-on-one talks this season, Hoiberg has encouraged his experienced guard to "live in the moment," which the second-year coach believes has helped spur Allen's recent on-court success.
"You can just see he's out there playing with more freedom," Hoiberg said. "He's out there playing with less pressure I think and in turn he's playing a lot better basketball."