Five takeaways from Iowa State’s intense, Farmageddon victory

Iowa State Cyclones men’s basketball head coach T. J. Otzelberger greets Kansas State men’s basketball head coach Jerome Tang (right) before the game in the Big-12 conference showdown of an NCAA college basketball at Hilton Coliseum on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024, in Ames, Iowa. © Nirmalendu Majumdar/Ames Tribune / USA TODAY NETWORK

Iowa State improved to 15-4 on the season and 4-2 in Big 12 play with a 78-67 win over Kansas State on Wednesday in Hilton Coliseum.

Here are five takeaways:

Curtis Jones is back for more

For the second-straight game, Iowa State guard Curtis Jones produced at least 17 points to help lead his team to a Big 12 win. It’s a stark difference in production for Jones, who had five points combined in the three games prior to Saturday’s win over TCU.

“You can just tell he’s more confident out there – he’s hunting his shot more, which we wanted him to do, and be more aggressive,” coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “His impact offensively – he does a great job moving the basketball.”

Jones’ performances seemed to have been kickstarted by Tamin Lipsey’s absence from the court Saturday.

Second half starts

Iowa State came out of the halftime break with a lackluster start to the half, allowing Kansas State to get out to a 9-0 run early in the final 20 minutes.

It’s the third-straight game that featured a slow start for the Cyclones, and it made for a much tougher task to send Kansas State back to Manhattan with a loss.

Sure, there are plenty of circumstances that can help explain this, but it’s a trend Iowa State may need to keep an eye on going forward.

Otz & Tang keep heated moments between themselves

Otzelberger and Kansas State coach Jerome Tang had a pair of exchanges between each other during Wednesday’s game.

The first exchange came late in the second half, during a timeout.

Tang walked over the halfcourt line before pointing at Otzelberger as words were exchanged, before being shuffled back to his team’s bench by an official.

Otzelberger appeared to be lobbying for a warning or foul for leaving the coaches’ box, but did not specify after the game.

Both coaches exchanged words once more in the handshake line, however neither disclosed what the conversation was about.

Farmegeddon rivalry delivers again

Not every rivalry can transcend into multiple sports, and some at Iowa State consider ‘Farmageddon,’ less of one than others.

Like it or not, the schools have been playing against one another for over 100 years – Wednesday night was just another, electric chapter in one of the longest series of competitions in collegiate athletics.

Between the exchanges between coaches and the number of whistles in the game’s final 10 minutes, the atmosphere at Hilton Coliseum flipped a switch in intensity.

The opportunity ahead

This win gives Iowa State a 12-0 record through two-third’s of the home slate for the Cyclones. Through the first third of the conference slate, the team is one of six programs with two losses or fewer – along with a pair of wins against teams in that group of six.

Another rival for the Cyclones in No. 7 Kansas comes to Ames Saturday, for a nationally televised matchup in what is expected to be another intense atmosphere.

I’m a believer in momentum – and like with Farmageddon, some are not. But there is something to beating talented teams and the confidence that can come with that.

It’s hard to find a bigger game or opportunity at this moment on Iowa State’s regular season slate, and if it can pick up another win on Saturday, the Cyclones will be riding as high as they have all season.