Iowa State played perhaps its most important game on Saturday. Coming off of a three game losing streak and playing a tough — albeit beatable — Oklahoma team, the Cyclones needed to get back on track if they hoped to have any success this season.
The game ended up being exactly what the Cyclones needed.
The movement was flowing, the perimeter shots were sinking and the defense was stifling.
Moving forward, the Cyclones still have a tough road, and as it stands right now, they don't have a great shot at the NCAA Tournament in March, but the Oklahoma game was a step in the right direction for Coach Steve Prohm's team.
Rasir Bolton provides scoring flare
One of Iowa State's most underrated scorers this season has been sophomore guard Rasir Bolton. Perhaps underrated is the wrong word, however, as Bolton has showed that inconsistency is still a big part of his game as he matures.
Bolton shook off an abysmal performance against Kansas for one of his best performances yet. The sophomore finished with 23 points on 10-17 shooting. Bolton also added six assists, which showcases a playmaking ability that hasn't quite shone through in that column.
Rasir Bolton has looked solid on the drive tonight. Comes off of a bad shooting performance against Kansas.— Zane Douglas (@zdouglas27) January 12, 2020
Bolton killed the Sooners with his quickness, finishing and vision, and they had no answer for him.
"I was just playing, you know, just trying not to lose, trying to get that sick feeling out," Bolton said.
With an away tilt against Baylor next, Bolton will need to have a game like Saturday if the Cyclones want to pull off a huge upset.
Terrence Lewis finally pans out
Many take some time to develop. The path to a solid basketball career isn't always linear, but since it is so short and the prime of your athletic ability is so young, struggling for a couple years can all but end your career as a basketball player.
Junior guard Terrence Lewis might be the epitome of that situation. Lewis was a top-100 recruit by some outlets and came to the team at the same time as Lindell Wigginton.
Lewis was stagnant on offense and a liability on defense to the point where his minutes came only sparingly.
In multiple games this season, Lewis has stepped up and given the Cyclones a boost as the only traditional wing that they have in their rotation.
Against Oklahoma, the junior did it with cuts, three-point shooting and hustle, which sparked one of Iowa State's early runs that gave the Cyclones a large lead.
Lewis would score 10 points in just the first half.
The second half didn't showcase Lewis, but his first half contributions were much needed for the struggling Cyclone club.
"Terrence Lewis came off the bench and was terrific for us," Prohm said.
Prohm's plan all along
Iowa State shuffled out a new starting lineup on Saturday and would tinker with different looks all game that probably made it hard for Oklahoma to trust any of the film it watched.
Steve Prohm on tonight's win: It was a game we knew we had to have.— Zane Douglas (@zdouglas27) January 12, 2020
The plan was to have Solomon Young come off the bench and allow sophomore George Conditt to get his first star of the year. The move looked smart, as both of them played well in their new roles.
Seniors Michael Jacobson and Prentiss Nixon were two starters that saw some different rotations as well.
Jacobson and Nixon were subbed out early in the first half and didn't return until the second half of the game.
"That was my process coming into the game," Prohm said. "I talked to you guys the other day [about going] deep into my bench and trust those guys and see who could really give us a spark."
Prohm's confidence in what he did on Saturday could lead Cyclone fans to believe that this kind of thing will be common, and with Baylor awaiting, it might be the only advantage that Iowa State has.