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Basketball

PREVIEW: Three things on Iowa State vs. Tulsa

WHAT: Iowa State (1-2) vs. Tulsa (2-1)
WHEN: Friday, 6 p.m.
WHERE: Myrtle Beach, S.C.
TV: ESPNU
LINE: Iowa State (-3)

MYRTLE BEACH — The Cyclones (1-2) still have a lot of work to do, but Thursday night’s 104-98 victory over Appalachian State showed an immense amount of progress since losing to Milwaukee at home.

Take a look at Iowa State’s box score and you’ll notice trends, specifically in establishing team roles, which is exactly you wanted to see from this group of Cyclones during a pre-Thanksgiving getaway on the east coast.

Iowa State looked like a team that was developing an identity in that high scoring win over the Mountaineers.

Tonight, it’s Iowa State vs. Tulsa in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off semi finals. Here are three things along with notes on the Golden Hurricane.

1 – Donovan and Nick stepped up

Donovan Jackson and Nick Weiler-Babb combined for 49 points in Iowa State’s first win of the season while going 8-of-13 from long range.

Iowa State’s time between the Milwaukee loss and Appalachian State was spent heavily on defense and establishing roles within the team. It is pretty obvious that this season, the Cyclones will go as Weiler-Babb and Jackson allow them to.

Jackson and Weiler-Babb are a couple of guys who have been role players in the past. Sometimes it takes a while to feel comfortable taking that next step and becoming “the man.”

Last night’s performance was very encouraging in that sense.

2 – What a debut

It seems like we’ve been hearing about Cameron Lard for years with no pay off. In his first game as a Cyclone, the freshman recorded a double-double (12 and 11) in 20 minutes of action.

Lard, who also recorded three blocks (and altered a handful of additional shots), plays above the rim and Iowa State just felt like a better team when he was on the floor.

He and Solomon Young will face a tough task tonight with the assignment of defending Tulsa’s Junior Etou, a 6-foot-8 forward who led the Golden Hurricane in scoring and rebounding a season ago.

3 – Scouting Tulsa

Some need-to-knows on the Golden Hurricane…

— Last season, Frank Haith was tasked with the chore of replacing seven of his eight top scorers from the season before. It was very reminiscent in the situation that Steve Prohm is in right now.

— Etou, a Rutgers transfer, is averaging 15.7 points per game so far this season.

— Guard Sterling Taplin is really good. He averaged 9 points per game last season and has increased that mark to 15 so far in 2017. Expect Weiler-Babb to draw that defensive assignment for the Cyclones.

— Iowa State actually has quite a bit of familiarity with Tulsa. Steve Prohm’s final Murray State team beat Frank Haith’s first Tulsa team 83-62 in the 2015 NIT’s second-round.

Haith heavily recruited Donovan Jackson to Tulsa.

A former Iowa State recruiting target, Elijah Joiner, is currently averaging 7 points and 4 rebounds per game in his freshman season.

— Tulsa beat Western Michigan 81-74 in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off’s quarterfinal on Thursday night. A transfer from Charlotte, Curran Scott, led Tulsa in scoring with 17.