Jan 10, 2023; Ames, Iowa, USA; Iowa State Cyclones guard Gabe Kalscheur (22) scores over Texas Tech Red Raiders guard Pop Isaacs (2) at James H. Hilton Coliseum.The Cyclones beat the Red Raiders 84 to 50. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
AMES — Gabe Kalscheur hasn’t forgotten Kansas City.
Iowa State’s senior leader remembers what happened the last time his team went toe-to-toe with Texas Tech. He remembers the helplessness Iowa State experienced in that 72-41 loss in the Big 12 Tournament at the T-Mobile Center last March.
Through a run to the Sweet 16 last year, another strong non-conference record and a 3-0 start to Big 12 play this season, Kalscheur didn’t forget about Kansas City.
It is safe to say Texas Tech won’t be forgetting about Ames anytime soon.
The Iowa State men’s basketball team put together one of its most dominant performances in recent memory on Tuesday when Texas Tech rolled into Hilton Coliseum, searching for their first Big 12 win of the season.
Kalscheur and his teammates not only sent them home empty, but sent them home in a fashion Texas Tech head coach Mark Adams hoped would be a wake-up call for his team.
Iowa State demoralized, destroyed and humiliated Texas Tech, moving to 4-0 in Big 12 play with an 84-50 win that felt like it had a little extra behind it.
“I feel like we owed Texas Tech,” Kalscheur said. “Going in this game, after last year, we wanted this one bad because of what they kinda did to us last year in the Big 12 Tournament. We came out with a vengeance, but knowing that we just needed to play together and just play how we usually play.”
This one was personal for Kalscheur, and that was made blatantly clear from the game’s opening moments. He was in attack-mode early and often, scoring the game’s first bucket on a floater just 22 seconds after the opening tip. Kalscheur tallied Iowa State’s first six points in the game to build a lead going into the first media break.
The two teams traded blows for most of the game’s first 10 minutes. The Red Raiders were able to shrug off early turnover troubles in order to cut Iowa State’s lead to 19-17 going into the under-eight timeout of the first half.
Kalscheur knocked down his second 3-pointer of the night with 6:50 on the clock in the first half to push Iowa State’s lead to five. The teams traded misses until Demarion Watson flew in for an offensive rebound and put back through a foul. Robert Jones got an easy layup on a good seal in the post to make it a 7-0 Iowa State run since the under-eight timeout.
Jaren Holmes added his first bucket of the night to make it 28-17 shortly after the under-four break. Tech’s Jaylon Tyson answered with a 3-pointer roughly a minute later to give the Red Raiders their first basket in nearly six minutes.
Texas Tech didn’t score again in the first half.
Tamin Lipsey knocked down a rare 3-pointer to push the Cyclones’ lead back to double digits, Caleb Grill made two of three free throws then Kalscheur delivered the half’s final knockout punch with a corner 3-pointer as the first half horn sounded.
Iowa State had closed the first half on a 20-3 run, and entered the locker room with a 19-point lead. Kalscheur scored 15 of his game-high 25 points during the first half. Texas Tech turned the ball over 13 times in the first 20 minutes.
This had officially becoming an ass whooping.
“You have to to give a lot of credit to the way that Iowa State played,” Adams said. “They were really, really good on both ends of the floor. Very, very aggressive. We knew it was gonna be a physical game. We didn’t match their intensity.”
Texas Tech did cut the Iowa State lead down to 15 points at a few different points in the second half, but it never really mattered. The Cyclones held complete and total control of this contest for nearly 30 full minutes.
Kalscheur deserves a considerable amount of credit for Iowa State’s dominance, knocking down 10-of-14 shots from the field, 5-of-6 from 3-point range and adding a team-high seven rebounds with his 25 points.
In four Big 12 games, Kalscheur is 12-of-25 from 3-point range at a 48 percent clip. He’s posted one of the league’s highest offensive ratings in conference and has done it while continuing to be one of the league’s best defenders.
Sustaining this type of production might be unrealistic for Kalscheur when you consider the roller coaster basically his entire college career has been. There have been epic highs, but embarrassing lows, as well.
Most of those moments on both ends of the spectrum haven’t been much more than blips. No performance is an indication of what the next one might hold. That is until this last four games stretch when Kalscheur has helped push Iowa State’s adjusted offensive efficiency into the top-75 nationally and he’s played his way into All-Big 12 consideration.
Much like his former teammate Izaiah Brockington did a year ago, Kalscheur has found his best basketball just when he, and his team, needed it most.
“When you work how (Kalscheur) works, it comes around for you,” Iowa State head coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “He’s earning that confidence. He’s put the hours in, he puts the time in, he puts it in every day. His teammates see him put it in. He leads us that way.”
Couple another big night from Kalscheur with 15 points from Jaren Holmes and 14 from Caleb Grill, and you’ve got another formula that can make Iowa State’s team capable of playing with anyone in the country.
This team is not going to lose if it shoots better than 50 percent from 3-point range like it did against Texas Tech, connecting on 12-of-22 shots from deep. This team is not going to lose very often when it is able to average 1.217 points per possession.
By comparison, the Red Raiders averaged 0.746.
How good is Iowa State playing right now? They’re playing so well they nearly just averaged more than half a point more per possession than a team that was ranked in the AP Poll earlier this season.
They’re playing so well they’ve basically climbed 50 spots in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency in two weeks. Over the last four games, the Cyclones have posted an averaged adjusted offensive efficiency of 119.1.
That would rank top-five nationally if stretched across the entire season, and that’s on top of already possessing what is arguably one of the sport’s top-five defenses.
We’re going to find out just how sustainable this entire operation is when they put their undefeated conference record on the line on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence. Better Iowa State teams than this one have entered the Phog and left humbled.
“Every one of these games is hard,” Otzelberger said. “We’ve got to keep working and earning everything on a daily basis, because we know that everybody that we play, home or road, they’re going to be at their best, and we’ve got to be at our best.”
I don’t know how long this will last or how far Kalscheur, Grill, Holmes and the rest of this crew can carry this team, but there is no doubt how much growth this program has made in just one year’s time since its breakout campaign.
This program isn’t a one-trick pony anymore. Texas Tech found that out the hard way on Tuesday at Hilton Coliseum. The program in Ames looks more like the old teams from Lubbock than the team in Lubbock does right now.
Kalscheur did his best to make sure they won’t forget it.
“It’s encouraging to see a team like Iowa State,” Adams said. “They play like we did last year so I certainly commend them for their effort. I have a lot of respect for these guys.”