Nov 20, 2016; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones head coach Steve Prohm talks to his bench during their game against the Citadel Bulldogs at James H. Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones beat the Bulldogs 130-63. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
On Nov. 30, 2014, Steve Prohm’s Murray State Racers were 2-4 and coming off a 35-point loss to Valparaiso. They were set to take on the Drake Bulldogs in the third place game at the Challenge in Music City in Nashville.
Prohm’s squad won that game 68-59, sparking a 25-game winning streak that made the Racers one of the hottest teams in the country entering conference tournament season. On Saturday, Prohm will meet up with Drake (1-8) for the second time in his coaching career when he leads Iowa State (6-3) into Wells Fargo Arena and the Hy-Vee Classic for a 6 p.m. tip.
“I stunk, my players stunk,” Prohm said of the lead-up to his last meeting with the Bulldogs. “Then we beat them and won 25 games in a row.”
Obviously this situation is quite a bit different, but there are parallels between this year’s Iowa State team and that 2014-15 Murray State team entering their games with the Bulldogs.
The Cyclones have lost three of their last four games and the doubters have been growing louder. This will be their first game since losing to Iowa last Thursday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. It wasn’t quite a 35-point loss to Valparaiso, but I’d imagine they don’t feel much different.
On the other hand, Drake enters the game essentially in absolute turmoil. Ray Giacoletti resigned last week after a 1-7 start, handing the keys to Jeff Rutter, a former Iowa State assistant during the Fred Hoiberg years.
The Bulldogs enter the game No. 271 nationally on KenPom.com. They are 239th in adjusted defense and 281st in adjusted offense. They’re in the 330s nationally in turnovers and just inside the top-300 in effective field goal percentage.
Coming off a 68-63 loss to Jackson State, it is safe to say the first nine games of Drake’s season have been a disaster with its only win coming over Division III Simpson.
“To be honest, I probably won’t watch Drake until, maybe, Thursday,” Prohm said during his weekly press conference on Monday. “Nothing against Drake, that’s just not our concern right now. I don’t know how they play, we just need to be about Iowa State until Christmas.”
This game will give the Cyclones a chance to get back on track with only one other game remaining before the start of Big 12 play. Maybe, a win over Drake could even give this team the same spark it did Prohm’s last squad at Murray State.
No matter what, the game will be a good chance for Iowa State to worry about Iowa State — and that’s not a bad thing when Big 12 play looms.