Last year, Steve Prohm won 25 straight games at Murray State. His bid for 26 straight wins, however, fell short by one point – thanks to an off-balanced three-pointer, no less – and Murray State missed the NCAA Tournament.
Prohm won’t have that problem this year at Iowa State.
“Right now we’re playing for seeding,” Prohm said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “We want to go to Kansas City next week and repeat and defend our conference tournament championship that we’ve won the last two years, but we’re playing to move up. Everyone’s kind of got us as a 4, maybe a 5, but if we win some games, we maybe could be a 3 when you look at all the great wins that we’ve compiled by the end of the year. So knowing you’re in is a great, great feeling. At the mid-major level, you just have no room for error. You always think about those tough losses more so than the great wins. You’re more sick for those kids because I’m going to coach for a long time. Those kids only have a small time to play in the NCAA tournament or win championships. That was a special team. They didn’t get the break at the end to get into the tournament, but it was a special season there and now we’re trying to finish up this season here in a special way.”
The No. 21 Cyclones (21-9, 10-7) have gone 4-5 against ranked teams this year. That includes wins over then-No. 1 Oklahoma and now-No. 1 Kansas. Three of Iowa State’s losses have come in overtime. Another three losses came by two points to Northern Illinois, by four points at Oklahoma and by five points against Baylor.
“There’s a couple games that you wish you could get back, but that’s probably everybody at the end of the year,” Prohm said. “You look back when you finish the regular season and say, ‘I wish we could have gotten that (one) and that (one).’ But I think our team is in a good place. We’ve gone through a lot. We’ve gotten better. Obviously we’re one of the best – or the best – offensive team in the country. We just got to continue to get tougher, continue to rebound better as we go (into) the stretch run.”
Iowa State closes the regular season at No. 1 Kansas (26-4, 14-3) this Saturday at 4 p.m. ET. The Cyclones beat the Jayhawks, 85-72, in Ames on Jan. 25.
Kansas hasn’t lost since.
“You look at their guards, (Frank) Mason and (Devonte’) Graham – (they’re) having great years,” Prohm said. “Perry Ellis is obviously a terrific, terrific four-year guy. Wayne Selden is tremendous, and (Bill Self) kind of rotates the 5-man. It could be a different guy every night, but those four guys have been really really good for them. We beat them (at home and they’ve won 10 straight games). They’re really guarding. They’re really making threes right now. Obviously Coach Self has done an amazing job, but I think he does an amazing job probably every year.”