WACO, Texas (AP) — Iowa State coach T.J. Otzelberger got everyone involved in the regular-season finale, and the Cyclones got a big boost going into the Big 12 tournament after the dismissal of one of their key players.
Jaren Holmes scored 16 points and the Cyclones used all 11 available players within the first 7 1/2 minutes of a 73-58 win over seventh-ranked Baylor on Saturday that ended their four-game losing streak, and came only three days after veteran guard Caleb Grill was dismissed from the team.
“We’ve got a lot of depth on this team, we’ve got a lot of heart,” Otzelberger said. “And we need to re-harness or bring in with our group, that togetherness, that unity, everyone playing for each other. And there’s no better way to get everybody playing for each other than to get everybody in the game and to feel that energy and that enthusiasm.”
Tre King, who started for only the second time this season, had 13 points and seven rebounds for the Cyclones (18-12, 9-9 Big 12).
Grill had started 22 of his 25 games, and was Iowa State’s third-leading scorer (9.5 points a game) when Otzelberger said the guard had failed to meet program expectations. Grill said later on social media that he has been dealing with mental illness.
The Cyclones, who had lost six of their previous seven games, built as much as a 14-point lead before halftime. When Baylor had a 10-0 run to cut its deficit to 36-32 with 15:29 left in the game, Iowa State scored 11 in a row with a 3-pointer by Gabe Kalscheur’s 3-pointer capped the run that pretty much sealed it.
“We were hungry for a win, and we were desperate,” said Kalscheur, who had 12 points. “And we did a great job of all just coming up saying what we’re going to do and doing it.”
Adam Flagler had 20 points with five 3-pointers for the Bears (22-9, 11-7), while LJ Cryer added 13 points.
Baylor’s 77-62 loss at Iowa State in the Big 12 opener on New Year’s Eve was part of an 0-3 start in conference play. The Bears had won 12 of 15 since, but shot only 35.8% (19 of 53) from the field, 55.6% (10 of 18) on free throws and were outrebounded 36-24 in likely their last Big 12 home game in the 35-year-old Ferrell Center.
“They’re a physical defense … we didn’t do a good enough job running our offense and fighting to get our offense lower and executing,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “When we did get good looks, and we didn’t have enough of them, we didn’t make them. It looked like everything was short today. The things that have made us a good team we didn’t do.”
Baylor is moving next season into the Foster Pavilion, which is still under construction just down the street on the edge of campus. The plan is to play their non-conference games in the Ferrell Center and debut in the new arena at the start of Big 12 play.
Iowa State: As they have to opponents all season, the Cyclones kept Baylor out of synch with various defenses. The Bears’ 22 points at halftime marked their fewest in any half this season, and they matched their season-low scoring total. … Iowa State had lost nine in a row in the Ferrell Center.
Baylor: Standout freshman Keyonte George finished with seven points on 3-of-10 shooting (1 of 7 on 3s) after missing Monday’s victory at Oklahoma State because of a right ankle sprain. George got hurt early in a home game against Texas last weekend. The Bears played without freshman guard Langston Love, who was poked in the eye in the first half against Oklahoma State.
SENIORS WITH ELIGIBILITY
Six Baylor seniors were recognized before the game, but big man Flo Thamba is the only of that group who doesn’t have any eligibility remaining after this season. Flagler, Dale Bonner and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua were among the others who could return.
The Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City. Neither team will have to play in the opening round, and will start in the quarterfinals Thursday.