On the bright side…

It’s not easy being an Iowa State men’s basketball fan right now. Six in a row have gone to the bad guys, the majority of them with relative ease.

Opponent’s average margin of victory in those games has been 15.2 points.

Saturday’s 82-68 loss to Missouri was at least encouraging offensively. It wasn’t all Craig Brackins.

Five Cyclones were in double figures, including reserve big man Jamie Vanderbeken, who has been an offensive blessing of late, despite the team’s lack of success.

JVB is averaging 13.5 points over the last three games, while making 14 of 22 (63.6 percent) shots from the field.

“Coach has been on me to get in the gym and get shots up,” Vanderbeken said. “I was struggling early in the season with my shot. I’m getting reps in and it’s coming for me right now.”

Vanderbeken was recruited for the sole purpose of stretching defenses with his outside shooting ability.

Brackins can rule the paint. Vanderbeken, formerly an Iowa recruit when Steve Alford was coach, toes the 3-point line waiting for the kick out.

“Craig demands a doble team or he’ll rip defenses apart,” he said. “I just try to find an open spot.”

He’s also developed into a decent defender and rebounder. Can you believe the guy never played man-to-man defense in his life before getting ISU?

 

Missouri, meanwhile, is on a serious roll. The Tigers will crack the Top 25 poll for the first time in Coach Mike Anderson’s tenure — and just in time for their Big Monday Border War match-up with Kansas.

The Tigers are loaded with positives. 

They have depth, versatility, scoring options, a defense that can rattle any team’s cage, good guard play… let’s just say Iowa State Coach Greg McDermott came away even more impressed than he was when Mizzou blasted the Cyclones, 77-46, last month in Columbia, Mo.

“I said the first time we played them that they could end up being the best team in our half of the league,” McDermott said. “If they play like that will be.”

The Tigers are now 20-4 overall and 7-2 in the conference, one place behind Kansas. The Jayhawks, despite losing their entire starting five, improved to 19-4 and 8-0 in the league with a win over Oklahoma State Saturday.

Should be must-see-TV Monday night. I’ll be watching.

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