Men’s basketball preview with The Iowa State Daily’s Matt Belinson

Christina Huang, Sports Reporter

The Daily Texan spoke with The Iowa State Daily sports editor Matt Belinson to dive into Saturday’s matchup between No. 21 Texas and No. 15 Iowa State. 


The Daily Texan: Could you give a rundown of what Iowa State’s season looks like up to this point? 

Matt Belinson: To encapsulate how this season has started, I think we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about last season. I think a lot of observers, and rightfully so, didn’t have a lot of high expectations for this group. (There were) so many new pieces to put together, (like) a new coaching staff and a completely different roster outside of George Conditt, Tre Jackson and Jaden Walker. 

They started 13–3 and (had) a 12–0 start. They were in the top 10 for a little bit there. It (was) pretty extraordinary just to see it all kind of come together so quickly. They’re in a rough patch right now; entering league play is a whole different animal (in) this conference. I think (the Big 12) is widely considered the best in the country and with good reason. 

I think what Iowa State is learning right now is as successful as the start was, (conference play) is a little bit different. (They’re) putting all those pieces together on a night in and night out basis where the level of competition is equal, if not maybe even better than (Texas).


DT: Who are some of Iowa State’s most exciting players right now? 

MB: Izaiah Brockington is his team’s leading scorer. He is producing at a high level on offense; it’s Izaiah Brockington pretty much carrying the offense for the first 10 minutes or so of the first half at times, and then the rest of his teammates kind of pick it up from there. He’s really been a revelation. He came over from Penn State in the offseason; he’s always been a pretty prolific scorer. What’s impressed me the most about him is not just the scoring — he’s just intense in everything that he does. (His) rebounding averages (are) pretty impressive for a guy his size, considering the noticeable physicality that’s in this league. He’s so active on the glass and flies to grab rebounds, so it seems like he’s always in the right place. 

Another player I would keep an eye on is freshman guard Tyrese Hunter. He’s certainly been given the responsibility of leading this offense. He’s an 18-year-old kid and this is going to be his 17th collegiate start on Saturday. I think it’s pretty interesting that T.J. Otzelberger gave him this much freedom, but I think that’s what they have to do at this point. Their point guard options were pretty limited with who left their team in the offseason, so he’s going to be a name to watch. I think he’s really starting to grow into his own in the last two games. 


DT: Are there any Longhorns who pose a major threat to a Cyclone victory? 

MB: I think Timmy Allen has been Texas’ most complete player that I’ve seen so far. You know, I feel like, at that size, it’s been pretty impressive to watch him score in different ways. I feel like a lot of times in this league, and really college basketball, there’s this perception that the big man is kind of relegated to the paint. But that’s not the case. 

I feel like when you watch Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma (and) Baylor, their bigs, the offense is running through them. And I feel like Timmy Allen is one of those guys in this league. He’s not afraid to have the ball in his hands. I feel like he wants to score whenever he can. And I feel like that’s gonna present a challenge for the Iowa State frontcourt. 

The talent is pretty limited; George Conditt became the most veteran player on this team just in terms of being a Cyclone … (he’s) this team’s elite rim protector, (but) the problem with him is he gives fouls pretty easily. I feel like the size disadvantage for Texas isn’t going to be that you know that big. I would say if Timmy Allen starts to get going (and) he starts to attack the glass and George (Conditt) starts getting a little uncomfortable (and has to) make some tough decisions, then (things start) to fall pretty easily. We can talk about Marcus Carr, Andrew Jones and whoever else, but just from what I’ve seen in the time that I’ve looked at Texas, I feel like Timmy Allen’s kind of been their most efficient player.


DT: Do you think that this game is pretty much a 50/50 toss-up? 

MB: I will probably give Iowa State a slight edge stylistically, just because they’ve been so dominant at Hilton Coliseum here and I feel like they’ve really (tuned into) that home crowd. Iowa State’s coming off a loss at Allen Fieldhouse and Texas is feeling good right now, so they’re gonna come into Ames pretty confident. But I probably give a slight edge, maybe 55-45. But you know, I think both teams play a similar style game and I feel like it could go either way.