Jan 16, 2019; Lubbock, TX, USA; Iowa State Cyclones guard Marial Shayok (3) shoots the ball against the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the first half at United Supermarkets Arena. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Time: 1 p.m.
Location: Hilton Coliseum
KenPom Prediction: 69-68, Texas Tech
1 – Combustible Chemistry
Let’s all hope the story coming out of Saturday’s regular-season finale has nothing to do with team chemistry. We all know the rumors and saw what happened on the court Wednesday night in Morgantown.
All of that stemmed from a physical practice on Monday before the team hit the road to take on the Mountaineers. Steve Prohm said after the game it takes more than a day or two for things like that to blow over.
Well, as of Saturday, it will have been five days since the scuffle – or whatever you want to call it – that ended with Marial Shayok injuring his left foot took place. Will the Cyclones have bounced back and come together as a team again?
A fast start against the No. 8 Red Raiders on Saturday at Hilton would do a lot to help people forget about everything that happened in Morgantown and shift minds towards the idea of spoiling Chris Beard’s squad’s bid for at least a share of the Big 12 title.
2 – Senior Sendoffs
It is crazy to think Nick Weiler-Babb has played 80 games in the Cardinal and Gold. It seems like just yesterday he was sitting out after transferring from Arkansas prior to the 2015-16 season and on Saturday he will make his final appearance as a player in Hilton Coliseum.
Entering the game, Weiler-Babb’s 327 assists in an Iowa State uniform ranks 13th in program history. He could conceivably pass a few more names on that list if the next several weeks go well for the senior from Arlington.
Has it really been almost three years since I wrote about Marial Shayok and the Virginia Cavaliers prior to Iowa State facing them in the Sweet 16? We never could have guessed then where we would be on March 9, 2019, preparing to see Shayok go through senior day wearing the Cardinal and Gold.
The soon-to-be-All-Big 12 guard from Canada scored 584 points in three seasons at Virginia. He has scored 543 points in his lone year as a Cyclone. No matter what happens in the next few weeks, Shayok will be regarded as one of the most successful transfer stories of many Iowa State has been a part of over the last decade.
Hopefully, his career will end on a higher note than where it feels to be trending.
As for Zoran Talley, the former graduate transfer from Old Dominion has probably never had the level of success he hoped to have during his time in Ames. He’s been in-and-out of the rotation while never really finding a consistent role within the team.
Regardless, the senior from Illinois went from being kicked off the team at Old Dominion to being an Academic All-Big 12 honoree earlier this week and will earn a graduate degree in community and regional planning. I don’t care what happened on the court, that sounds like a success story to me.
3 – Red Raider Resilience
Through mid-January and into the first week of February, Texas Tech went 2-4, sparked by a home loss to Iowa State on Jan. 16. Since the Red Raiders’ 79-63 loss to Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse, they’ve won eight straight and have themselves in position to win at least a share of the Big 12 crown.
It is a blueprint Iowa State can emulate as it tries to turn the tide on the 2-5 run it is currently in the midst of. Obviously, there is less time to do it, but the Red Raiders seemed to be playing themselves out of the Big 12 race a month ago.
Now, they’re nearly standing at the summit with only the Cyclones in their way.