Iowa State women's basketball vs Drake bench 2021

Maddie Frederick, Aubrey Joens and Nyamer Diew cheer on teammates during Iowa State's 98-76 win over Drake on Nov. 18.

The Iowa State women’s basketball team will have to be at the top of their game this week, as a road matchup with Louisiana State in the Big 12/SEC Challenge looms.

Coming away from the Gulf Coast Showcase, where the Cyclones played three games over just three days, the players will need to recover quickly ahead of Thursday’s game.

LSU presents some familiarity with the Tigers coached by long-time Baylor coach Kim Mulkey.

The Tigers enter the game with a record of 5-1 with no common opponents with Iowa State.

Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly has played in a lot of games against Mulkey, saying that her approach remains similar despite joining another school.

“They look the same, they’re big, they’re physical, they’re gonna pound you around the basket, play with a lot of energy, a lot of emotion. The kind of emotion that Kim has always shown,” Fennelly said.

While LSU does have a loss, the team still averages a 17-point margin of victory, dominating in most of its wins.

Khayla Pointer leads LSU in scoring, averaging nearly 18 ppg, but the biggest worry for Iowa State is the play inside.

Fennelly has been impressed with the way that his posts have performed so far this season; however, with guards banged up from the previous tournament, he is looking to mix up his lineups.

“We have not played two big guys in a game yet that we’ve practiced,” Fennelly said. “We might have to look at that option a little bit more than we’ve done in the past, so we’ll try that too.”

The three guards that Fennelly said will not be playing Thursday due to injury are Nyamer Diew, Denae Fritz and Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw.

This leaves Iowa State with very few remaining backcourt players, causing problems for Fennelly, who likes to deploy four-guard lineups frequently.

Before taking the job with LSU, Mulkey became the fastest coach in both men’s and women’s division one college basketball to reach 600 wins, doing so in 700 games.

Iowa State and LSU tip off Thursday at 8 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

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