One game away from paradise — Paradise Island, that is.
Iowa State and Southern Mississippi will play on Tuesday before the Cyclones trek to the Bahamas to play Michigan in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
The Cyclones come into the game with a 2-1 record after winning against Mississippi Valley State and Northern Illinois, but falling to Oregon State.
“We want to go down there to the Bahamas with some momentum,” said coach Steve Prohm. “We need to make sure we’re on our ‘A’ game.”
The Golden Eagles have had a rough start to the season. They have a 1-2 record with losses to South Alabama and North Florida. However, South Alabama did hang close with the likes of Mississippi State and Auburn.
Iowa State might be relying on its interior scoring again after an abysmal outside shooting performance against Northern Illinois. The Cyclones shot 3-25 from behind the three-point arc and if not for freshman guard Caleb Grill, they would’ve been 1-23.
Iowa State’s best player, Tyrese Haliburton, had an uncharacteristic off night where he only connected on two of his nine shot attempts and missed every three he attempted.
The Cyclones beat Northern Illinois thanks to stellar defense and inside scoring from guard transfer Rasir Bolton and forward Solomon Young.
“It was just one of those nights, you know you can’t really hit from deep” Bolton said. “We got it inside, got it to our bigs and finished around the rim and we came out with the win.”
Bolton slashed to the rim on numerous occasions resulting in a flurry of and-one opportunities for the sophomore. His shooting stroke hasn’t found its rhythm yet, but Bolton has had no trouble getting to the basket so far on the season and it had him leading the Cyclones in points.
Young had similar success, but while his was inside scoring as well, he got his points from post moves and back-to-basket type opportunities over drives like Bolton.
Either way, the Cyclones have experienced players at getting to or around the rim that they can rely on that part of their game if the shooting remains stale.
Down low, the Cyclones are benefitting from a over-abundance of solid play, with backup George Conditt being perhaps the most efficient player on the team so far this season and Michael Jacobson scoring point and grabbing rebounds at a high clip. Even stretch-four Zion Griffin has gotten meaningful buckets for the Cyclones down low.
Jacobson plays the most of those players. Jacobson is a big body down low with strength that has no trouble boxing out offensive player on rebounds. Jacobson also has a solid shooting stroke and is 4-9 from three this season.
“I think we do a pretty good job on the offensive boards, but [defensively] just getting back a better percentage of them,” Jacobson said.
Jacobson will be a big factor on Tuesday against the Golden Eagles and so will his counterparts.
The game will take place at 7 p.m. at Hilton Coliseum in Ames.