Iowa State routs Florida A&M, 96-58, but seeks consistency as nonconference play winds down

Iowa State Cyclones forward Tre King (0) takes a shot around Florida A&M Rattlers forward Keith Lamar (5) and forward Shannon Grant (13) during the first half of a NCAA college basketball at Hilton Coliseum on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2023, in Ames, Iowa.

 AMES — Iowa State shot nearly 60 percent from the field. The Cyclones also forced 17 turnovers in the first half alone. So the outcome in what predictably turned into a runaway 96-58 win over outmanned Florida A&M Sunday at Hilton Coliseum was never remotely in doubt.

 But Cyclone head coach T.J. Otzelberger found his team (9-2) lacking consistency at times — a quality it must continue to chase as Big 12 Conference play beckons in a couple of weeks.

 “Our ball pressure and intensity on defense wasn’t where it needed to be,” Otzelberger said. “It felt like there were times on the glass where we were behind plays and didn’t secure rebounds that we expect to secure.”

 Is that nitpicking?

 Maybe, but ISU can’t afford to endure lengthy lapses on either end of the floor once the calendar turns toward the Jan. 6 conference opener at No. 11 Oklahoma. 

  “It’s important to me that every single day we come with a certain work ethic, a certain level of focus, and standards that we uphold,” Otzelberger said. “Regardless of the score or who we’re playing, it’s important that we do that.”

 Sophomore point guard Tamin Lipsey led the Cyclones with 19 points and shot 5-for-7 from 3-point range. His previous career-high from long distance had been two, achieved multiple times. Sunday, he more than tripled that while adding five assists to zero turnovers.

 “Teams can’t sag on him anymore,” said freshman forward Milan Momcilovic, who scored 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting. “They have to pressure him, so now he has the ability to just drive right downhill and get a layup. So teams, they’re gonna need to find a way to play him.”

 Same goes for senior forward Tre King, who notched his first double-double of the season with 18 points and 10 rebounds. He went 8-for-11 from the floor and hoisted up a rare 3-point try after seeing his teammates go 10-for-19 from beyond the arc.

 “Sometimes you’ve just got to try to join the party,” King said. “It’s going to go in one of these days.”

 Otzelberger challenged King to be one of the Big 12’s best rebounders before the season started — a lofty goal he’s convinced the 6-8 former transfer can achieve.

 “He’s had some things in terms of sickness, or his back, things that have been acting up,” Otzelberger said. “Proud of him for mentally committing and focusing on something that’s so important. I’ve challenged him for that double-double for a few weeks and he had his first one here today. Really pleased with that and now we’re gonna continue to challenge him to have more of them because we know what he’s capable of, and it’s important he continues to elevate himself, which will then elevate our team.”