STANZ: Tigers race past Iowa State in Big 12/SEC Challenge

Jan 28, 2023; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Iowa State Cyclones guard Gabe Kalscheur (22) dribbles the ball against Missouri Tigers guard Kobe Brown (24) during the second half at Mizzou Arena. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Not much went right for Iowa State on Saturday in Columbia.

Playing without one of their best players, Iowa State shot just 45 percent from the field and turned the ball over 17 times as Missouri raced to a 78-61 win in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

The Tigers executed their offense to near perfection to have the Iowa State defense on skates the entire afternoon. Dennis Gates’ team knocked down 11 of their first 16 3-point attempts on the afternoon and finished with a 14-of-30 mark from downtown.

The majority of that damage from deep was done by senior guard D’Moi Hodge, who finished with 17 points and went 5-of-10 from deep. Tiger forward Kobe Brown owned the painted area the entire afternoon by posting 20 points and 12 rebounds while shooting 7-of-7 from the free-throw line.

Meanwhile, Iowa State shot just 3-of-8 from the charity stripe in the entire game.

The Cyclones struggled to find any semblance of flow against a Missouri defense that entered the game No. 194 in adjusted defensive efficiency but was top-10 nationally in turnover percentage. The Tigers used their length and athleticism to completely blow up Iowa State’s offensive actions and forced the Cyclones to run their stuff further and further from the basket as the game went along.

Jaren Holmes led Iowa State with 19 points on 8-of-16 shooting, grabbed four rebounds and dished three assists while helping handle the ball against the Missouri press. Gabe Kalscheur showed flashes of the shotmaking ability we’ve seen over the last month while struggling to find openings on his way to finishing with 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting and 4-of-9 from 3-point range. Kalscheur also turned the ball over six times against Missouri’s high-pressure defense.

Tre King made his first start as a Cyclone in place of senior guard Caleb Grill. King finished the afternoon with nine points and five rebounds.

While Iowa State surely wanted to win this game, the decision to sit Grill outright after he’d played, albeit in a hobbled fashion, in the Cyclones’ previous two games against Oklahoma State and Kansas State indicates where the focus remains as the month of February looms.

The Cyclones will travel to Texas Tech on Monday in a quick turnaround back into Big 12 action. The Red Raiders picked up their first win in a month on Saturday when they went on the road to beat LSU.

Iowa State needs Grill in order to be its best, and that’s especially true when your opponent knocks down 14 3-pointers. The Cyclones will need to be their best if they hope to hold their spot atop the Big 12 standings and contend for a league title over the next 10 games.

That makes the decision to sit Grill the right one, even if it left Iowa State shorthanded against a quality team in a hostile environment.

The Cyclones never seemed comfortable in this game much like when this team visited Iowa City back in December. Their lack of comfort was aided by their opponents shooting the lights out of the ball in both instances.

Not having Grill surely played into that lack of comfortability, as well.

If Grill is able to return closer to his normal self on Monday, the decision to sit him against Missouri will have paid dividends. He’ll surely be helped by the fact Iowa State will not play again for five days after facing the Red Raiders.

These are things that will help Iowa State get back to being its best, and people forget this team hasn’t really been at its best for more than a month even as it played some of its best ball of the year.

There is still the question of senior forward Aljaz Kunc’s return to the lineup, which was originally targeted to be next Saturday against Kansas at Hilton Coliseum when it was announced he’d miss roughly a month with a hand injury.

Monday’s game is one Iowa State probably can’t afford to lose if it has hopes of winning a Big 12 regular season title when you consider the Red Raiders are still winless in league play. They’re probably going to need Grill in order to do that.

Next Saturday has the opportunity to mark Iowa State’s arrival as one of the teams to beat as the league’s home stretch arrives. They’re probably going to need Kunc in order to maximize their ability to do those things.

I’m sure Iowa State would have liked to beat the program’s old rival on Saturday in Columbia. There are bigger goals left out there on the table for this team, though.

They’ll need to get closer to being their best this week in order to achieve them.

Jared Stansbury


Jared a native of Clarinda, Iowa, started as the Cyclone Fanatic intern in August 2013, primarily working as a videographer until starting on the women’s basketball beat prior to the 2014-15 season. Upon earning his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State in May 2016, Jared was hired as the site’s full-time staff writer, taking over as the primary day-to-day reporter on football and men’s basketball. He was elevated to the position of managing editor in January 2020. He is a regular contributor on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines and makes regular guest appearances on radio stations across the Midwest. Jared resides in Ankeny with his four-year-old puggle, Lolo.