Iowa State men’s basketball very well may find itself in an unlikely place when the month of December starts next Wednesday — the AP Top-25.
Led by 30 points from Gabe Kalscheur, the Cyclones moved to 6-0 for the first time since 2015 on Saturday with a 78-59 win over No. 9 Memphis in the NIT Tip-Off championship game in Brooklyn. After winning just two games last season, Iowa State secured two wins over top-25 opponents in four days to give tangible evidence of the program’s transformation under new head coach TJ Otzelberger.
The win over Memphis was Iowa State’s first triumph over a top-10 opponent since Jan. 16, 2019, when the Cyclones beat No. 8 Texas Tech in Lubbock behind Marial Shayok.
On Saturday, it was another former transfer leading the way as Kalscheur shot 10-of-18 from the field, 3-of-5 from 3-point range and 7-of-9 from the free-throw line to accompany eight rebounds, five steals and two assists in his stat line.
Kalscheur and Izaiah Brockington, who scored 30 points in the Cyclones’ win over No. 25 Xavier on Wednesday, are the first pair of Iowa State teammates to score 30 points in back-to-back games since Jeff Grayer and Lafester Rhodes in 1988.
Tristan Enaruna was the only other Cyclone starter to score in double figures with 1`1 points while Aljaz Kunc added 11 points off the bench.
The real star of the night was Iowa State’s continued success on the defensive end as the Tigers shot just 35.8 percent from the field and 35.3 percent from 3-point range.
Memphis stars, and likely NBA lottery picks next April, Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren combined to shoot 5-of-15 from the field and 14 points. The Tigers also turned the ball over 22 times against Iowa State’s defensive pressure.
Iowa State will be back in action on Wednesday, Dec. 1, against Arkansas Pine Bluff at Hilton Coliseum.
The Cyclones just might find themselves in the rankings on Monday, too.