Darlinstone Dubar Oklahoma State 2020

Iowa State freshman Darlinstone Dubar attempts to block Oklahoma State's Avery Anderson's shot attempt in Iowa State men's basketball's game against the Cowboys on Monday.

It was a strange night on Monday at Hilton Coliseum for the Cyclones against Oklahoma State.

How strange?

Besides the frozen tundra of Ames' roads with 8-plus inches of snow on the ground, quite a bit.

For starters, Iowa State returned from its COVID-19 program pause in which four games were postponed, making Monday's game the Cyclones' first action in 16 days.

Oh yeah, and there were six scholarship players available for Iowa State.

But this is the world college basketball is living in now.

“The game’s the game once you get in there,” Iowa State Head Coach Steve Prohm said after the loss. “We had eight guys and you obviously have to ask more from everybody to step up, from myself to the eighth man, but the game of basketball is great. This is the landscape we’re in so you gotta adjust and we gotta be able to handle adversity. We gotta continue to encourage one another so we can get through this.”

The Cyclones did what they could with eight available players in its 81-60 loss to the Cowboys and while Prohm and his players have said time and time again during this unusual season that moral victories don't exist, players stepped up into extended minutes and scoring roles more than they have been used to.

The Big 12 Conference's threshold says that with at least six players available, a team must play. So, Iowa State did what it could after coming out of a 16-day COVID-19 pause.

Prohm said Iowa State didn't feel like Monday's game needed to be postponed for both teams to have a chance to face off at full strength. Iowa State had already been through enough delays.

Even with so many players missing, it's the reality Iowa State and much of college basketball is living in.

"We’ve been out for a couple of weeks now so we were ready to play," Prohm said. "Unfortunately, we had eight guys total and just an unfortunate situation but we all understand the landscape that we’re dealing with right now."

Iowa State junior guard Rasir Bolton said while the challenges in front of the team were unique, the Cyclones' mindset coming into Monday's predicament was simple: Next man up.

Bolton led the team with 19 points in the loss but said the team tried to just stick together during the strange evening at Hilton and fight together as best they could.

“Everybody was gonna play tonight, only had eight guys and just going out there and competing, playing together, having each other’s backs, knowing it’s not going to be perfect. We just playing hard," Bolton said.

Dudley Blackwell Oklahoma State 2021

Iowa State freshman Dudley Blackwell shoots the ball against Oklahoma State's Kalib Boone on Monday at Hilton Coliseum.

Bolton wasn't the only one who brought efficient scoring Monday, with Memphis transfer Tyler Harris contributing 18 points of his own. The 18 points were his most as a Cyclone.

After returning from a break like the one Iowa State faced, Harris said the team was just looking to compete, no matter what it looked like.

“Going out there we didn’t know how things were gonna go," Harris said. “We just wanted to come out there and play hard."

And Iowa State got to see the competitiveness from some of its youngest players.

Freshman Jaden Walker scored a career-high eight points in a career-high 34 minutes. Fellow freshmen Darlinstone Dubar and Dudley Blackwell also played career highs in minutes respectively. 

Walk-on Nate Jenkins also stepped into an expanded role given the roster shortage, playing a career-high 19 minutes as well.

Harris said Monday's circumstances were of course not ideal, but like the rest of this 2020-21 season, it was really nothing new for Iowa State.

“This whole year has been a strange year," Harris said.

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