Their non-conference schedule was below-average, beating the likes of Providence and Iowa to highlight their slate, losing their only true challenge to Michigan in Ann Arbor. Yet expectations come conference play were still higher than usual with Minnesota-transfer Royce White and former-Michigan State Spartan Chris Allen in the starting lineup, but still, there will plenty of question marks. Royce White had no played a competitive game in two years due to several run-ins with the Golden Gophers; the talent was surely there for this one-time top recruit, but how was the head on his shoulders? Chris Allen was nothing more than a role player for the Spartans and a perimeter-shooter to space the floor, so what role would he take on with his new team? Could such a young coach in Fred Hoiberg get this team to play together?
Well, nine games into Big 12 play and 22 games overall for the Cyclones, we now have some answers to the critics; Iowa State appears to be for real- ready to make their first Tournament appearance since 2005 barring a collapse. Royce White has been nothing short of fantastic, leading the team in scoring, rebounding and assists, claiming fame for being one of the nation's most well-rounded players. Standing 6'8", White has garnering attention amongst NBA scouts with his 22-point, 13-rebound, 4-steal performance against Michigan, 10-point, 18-rebound, 10-assist triple-double at Texas A&M, 18-points and 17-rebounds at Kansas and several more truly outstanding individual performances. He is the focal point of the offense as the low-post scorer developing into a stretch the floor 4, a potent force on the glass and a distributor on offense. With his court vision and passing instincts, he has not only set-up teammates for buckets with his assists, but opens the floor for open looks. There are five players averaging better than 8 points per game in addition to White, which includes the streaky shooting of Chris Allen.
It was some of this streaky shooting by Chris Allen and slashing by sophomore wing Melvin Ejim and obviously, monstrous performances by White that has sparked back-to-back wins over Tournament teams Kansas and Kansas State, strengthening the resume of the Cyclones in the process.