From the 5:21 mark of the first half, the Iowa State Cyclones (10-3, 1-0) outscored the No. 12 Baylor Bears (10-3, 0-1) 57-33 for a pummeling 77-62 win over the team picked to win the conference.
The early brilliance of Adam Flagler (20 points, 14 pts 1 half) was enough to make it a close game at halftime and give Baylor the lead most of the first half. But then Iowa State’s Gabe Kalscheur (23 pts) and Caleb Grill (18 pts, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 threes) keyed off a 14-2 run to end the frame, and the Bears never recovered.
After a pair of Dale Bonner (4 pts, 1 ast, 3 TOs) free throws made it 29-20, Kalscheurg answered with a three, bringing the quiet Hilton crowd back to life. Freshman guard Tamin Lipsey (8 pts, 8 asts, 3 stls) got a steal the following possession, but Baylor did well to defend in transition. A bobbled rebound, though, gave Grill a chance at a long three. He would hit it, and the Cyclones were suddenly down just 29-26 with 4:25 left in the half.
Next time down the floor, Kalscheur hit a short corner two, and the 8-0 run brought Iowa State within 1. Several empty possessions later, a Lipsey lob to Robert Jones gave ISU a 10-0 run and a 30-29 lead.
Flagler, steady as ever, isolated to the left and hit a tough jumper. That finally broke the run and gave the Bears back the lead 31-30 with 1:21 left in the half.
The back and forth continued, though, and after a pair of Grill free throws made it 32-31, neither team converted their final possession. Then redshirt freshman Langston Love (0 pts, 1 reb, 0 asts, 3 TOs) was called for a questionable foul on a rebound, allowing Osun Osunniyi *8 pts, 4 rebs) to make 2 free throws. That capped a 14-2 run by ISU to end the half.
Iowa State scored on the first 4 possessions of the second half, and the Cyclones extended what was essentially a 23-3 run that started in the first half with a 9-1 run out of half time. The Bears were down double-digits for the first time in the game, and it felt like the offense could do nothing apart from Flagler’s individual brilliance.
Iowa State’s run was broken by Keyonte George’s first field goal and an and-one. Next time down the floor, George (16 pts, 3 rebs, 1 ast, 5 TOs) sank a beautiful corner three, and then Bridges got an offensive put-back following a rare Flagler miss. The 8-0 run got Baylor back in the game 40-43 before a third three from Grill gave Iowa State a bit more distance.
While George found his groove with 10 quick points, the second half defense let ISU hold Baylor at arms length. The Cyclones scored on 4 straight possessions, and the lead was double-digits again at 56-46.
George drilled a three off an inbound to make it 56-49, but was answered by Grill’s fourth three of the game, and the lead remained 10 for Iowa State with less than 10 minutes remaining.
The Bears never challenged again.
The game was decided after the under-8 timeout when Baylor missed 11 straight shots and went nearly 8 minutes without making a field goal and Iowa State was able to stretch the lead to 74-56. The Bears just didn’t have the defense, toughness, or shot making this afternoon to beat a physical, down hill Iowa State team.
Baylor finished the game shooting 38% from the floor and had 19 turnovers to just 7 assists. The three-point shooting is what really broke the Bears, though. In the first half, Baylor was 0-6 on non-Flagler threes, made just 2 threes in the second half, and finished just 25% from deep for the game. LJ Cryer was out this game in concussion protocol, but there is more shooting talent on this team that simply has to manifest for Baylor to contend in the Big 12. Pair today’s poor shooting with atrocious pick and roll defense, and that’s the recipe that brewed up another blowout loss on the road.
As 2022 comes to a close tonight, the Bears will have a lot to reflect and improve on in the new year.