With No. 3 Kansas rolling into Hilton Coliseum on Wednesday, Iowa State men's basketball is in the midst of a tough stretch of play.
The Cyclones suffered defeat at the hands of Florida A&M in Hilton Coliseum and also were dealt a narrow loss to start conference play against TCU.
Head Coach Steve Prohm and the rest of the team have heard the complaints and the Twitter rants from Cyclone fans and are looking to exercise the demons that have appeared as of late against Kansas on Wednesday.
Prohm knows that Kansas has been — and still is — the best the Big 12 conference has to offer, making the timing of the matchup all the more important for his group, who is looking to get back in the win column during this stretch.
"They are the top-tier team in our league, so we'll be ready," Prohm said. "We are going to have to play extremely well... I expect us to play really well."
Iowa State was able to take down the Jayhawks at home by 17 points last season, the first of its eventual five wins at home during Big 12 play in the 2018-19 season.
But so far this season, Iowa State has struggled to win at Hilton.
After dropping games to Iowa and Florida A&M before conference play even began, Iowa State now faces back-to-back home conference games in Kansas and Oklahoma with a chance to regain its home court advantage.
"I know it's at home, I know there is a lot of pressure and all that, but we got to enjoy it too, we have to have fun, we have to be in the moment," Prohm said.
The fifth-year head coach acknowledged that the outside noise comes from a small minority of fans — fans that Prohm doesn't want his team to focus on when it comes to play on Wednesday.
Instead, Prohm wants the Cyclones to play for the fans who have stuck with them, even during the tough stretch they find themselves in.
"We aren't playing to appease those 20 percent; we are playing for the other 80," Prohm said.
Even with some of his players posting reactions and comments toward the negative reactions of some Cyclone fans during this two game losing streak, Prohm said he will not use that as fuel for his players ahead of the matchup against the Jayhawks.
In Prohm's eyes, the negative posts and comments can only provide a small boost to how the team may perform, but in the end, the Cyclone's fundamentals and practice time will be the deciding factor.
"All that stuff, that's good for five minutes," Prohm said. "The next 35 is your fundamentals, your character, your attention to detail."
Tyrese Haliburton has been free of most criticism so far for Iowa State this season. The Cyclone's young leader may be averaging 17 points per game with eight assists to go with it, yet he knows that Iowa State is not playing up to its potential at the moment.
Haliburton said that small mistakes have cost the Cyclones in big games early on but feels confident that he and the rest of his teammates will figure out a way to bounce back quickly.
Despite not playing the last time the Cyclones played at Hilton and lost to the Rattlers, Haliburton knows that the team did not show up like they were expected to.
"We obviously didn't have a great showing the last time we were here," Haliburton said. "We gotta put that one behind us and just move forward from that."
The sophomore gave a performance far from criticism against TCU in the Cyclone's conference opener as he put up a 22 point, 12 rebound and 10 assist triple double in the 81-79 loss.
George Conditt was right alongside Haliburton against the Horned Frogs, as the sophomore shot-blocker found a groove on the offensive end. Conditt finished his night second on the team with 19 points on 6-12 shooting.
After another disappointing loss, Conditt took to social media to vent and express his frustration with how the fanbase and media have talked about and made comments about the Cyclones during the losing streak they find themselves in.
Conditt has since deleted that post on Twitter and says that the decision to remove the post was all his own.
Even though he is frustrated and values his teammates, Conditt said that he has to learn that ignoring the noise is part of becoming more mature.
"Sometimes it gets to you, but you just got to let it be," Conditt said. "Sometimes in maturing, you have to let those things go."
Prohm said that he talked with Conditt about the post and knows that he posted it because of how much respect he has for his team and school.
The social media backlash has reached Prohm before, which makes Prohm confident that Iowa State will be able to recover from the doubt quicker than some might think.
Prohm even suggested that he is a better coach, and his team plays better when the seat gets hotter.
"I probably coach better; the guys have always played better when you got a little 'stuff' going on."