WILLIAMS: Five thoughts on Iowa State’s Big 12 quarterfinal win over Kansas State

Iowa State sophomore guard Tamin Lipsey (3) shoots for three against Kansas State senior forward David N’Guessan (1) in the first half of the quarterfinal round in the Big 12 Tournament inside the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Mo.

5 — Iowa State needed to win at least one game in Kansas City. 

You don’t want to enter the NCAA Tournament on a losing streak, and Iowa State avoided that with a dominant 76-57 win over Kansas State on Thursday night in Hilton South. 

We have all made a lot out of this team’s legs looking a bit shot down the home stretch of the regular season and while a shorter stay in Kansas City might ultimately not be a bad thing, losing two in a row to at best a bubble team would have given fans considerably more questions than answers for a team with Final Four aspirations. 

This game wasn’t perfect, but definitely was a step in the right direction towards Iowa State re-finding its mid-season form. 

4 — A wacky rotation worked. 

Everyone is going to want to talk about Omaha Biliew coming out of nowhere and playing 10 minutes in this one, and you know what? I am here for it. 

Prior to Thursday night, Omaha hadn’t seen the court since Jan. 24. That’s a long time for a McDonald’s All-American to ride the pine. 

Omaha gave Iowa State energy, was engaged and for the most part played pretty well. 

The biggest point I’d make about this is to just give Omaha and the program both a lot of credit from a cultural standpoint. The fact that he is still this positive after barely playing all season says a lot about the young man and everything going on in Ames. 

I interviewed Omaha after the game. You can watch that video here. It’s well worth a couple minutes of your tie. 

Note: Demarion Watson was not eligible to play on Thursday night due to a concussion. This opened the door for Biliew to get minutes. 

3 — DEFENSE matters. 

This game against K-State offered up a stark difference compared to last Saturday’s 65-58 loss in Manhattan. The Wildcats committed 15 turnovers in that one, compared to 20 on Thursday night. 

Iowa State’s compiled 23 points off of those 20 turnovers, and added 44 points in the paint. 

My favorite stat from this one: Iowa State recorded 14 steals (!!!). Keshon Gilbert had six by himself. Kansas State’s guards wanted no part of Iowa State’s pressure. 

2 — On the Kansas State rivalry…

While Kansas State didn’t really live up to its end of this particular bout, the pre-game tension between these two fan bases and teams was a lot of fun. Iowa State fans just really, really despise Jerome Tang. Kansas State’s second-year coach got a first half technically that really amped up the Cardinal and Gold. 

This guy just can’t stay out of his own way, and once again stepped in it postgame…

1 — Thoughts on Iowa State’s offense. 

Ok, so Iowa State still was horrible from three. At least the Cyclones made one … 1-for-14. So that’s the bad. 

The good news is that Milan Momcilovic, Tamin Lipsey and T.J. Otzelberger all said postgame that they felt like the offense was much smoother than in prior games. The ball didn’t stick as much and when you out-score your opponent 44-24 inside the paint, you are doing something right. 

In fact, Otzelberger said that he isn’t worried about the 3-point mark. He believes those shots will eventually fall if the Cyclones are getting good looks.

“I swear I’m going to start making them,” Momcilovic told me with a smile. 

Stay tuned on that.