Omaha is coming off its first victory over a Power 5 opponent in the modern era, a win at Iowa on Saturday, but the Mavericks are not overconfident knowing what is coming up next.
Omaha (4-4) travels across the Hawkeye state to play Monday in Ames against No. 19 Iowa State, which is hungry for a victory after losing consecutive games against Gonzaga and Cincinnati.
“It was good to get one, but now we've got to focus back up,” Omaha junior forward Tre'Shawn Thurman told the Omaha World-Herald after the win over Iowa, the program's first victory over a Big Ten foe. “We've got a huge one Monday.”
Iowa State's slide is its first two-game nonconference losing streak since defeats to UNLV and Cincinnati in the 2012 Global Sports Classic in Las Vegas.
The Cyclones are in jeopardy of falling out of the AP Top 25 poll after 60 consecutive rankings, the third-longest streak behind Kansas and Arizona.
“I'm disappointed for the players,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said after the 55-54 overtime loss to the visiting Bearcats on Saturday. “I thought they really competed, and showed toughness and grit.
“I knew it would be a one-possession game.”
Iowa State (5-2) scored just three points in the final four minutes of regulation and two baskets in overtime. The loss snapped a 37-game winning streak against nonconference opponents at the Hilton Coliseum in Ames.
“Didn't make shots,” said senior guard Monte Morris, who leads the Cyclones scoring 15.9 points a game. “We just have to watch the film. We have to get better.
“It ain't the end of the world. We lost by one.”
Omaha's victory at Iowa was out of this world for coach Derrin Hansen and his fledging program in the Summit League. The Mavericks did not gain full postseason eligibility until last season after moving from Division II to Division I in 2011-12.
Hansen is wary of the fact Iowa State is experienced — one of four Division I teams that starts five seniors — and eager turn things around against an opponent that will not come in under the radar after the upset of the Hawkeyes.
“It becomes different because we're going to play a team that had a 37-game streak broke at home and they noticed us beating a cross-state rival,” said Hansen, whose team will play its seventh road game of the season. “There'll be no overlooking now. The game becomes different, not in our minds but in their minds. And that's probably the most important of the two.”
Omaha's top scorer, guard Zach Jackson (13.1 points a game), led the Mavericks against Iowa with 21 points and eight rebounds, while Thurman added 17 points and nine rebounds. Senior point guard Tra-Deon Hollins had 12 points with 11 assists.
Speculation around Iowa State's program suggests the Cyclones could make a starting lineup change on the frontcourt against Omaha.
Darrell Bowie, a 6-foot-8 senior reserve forward transfer from Northern Illinois, averaged 7.5 points and 6.3 rebounds in 22.8 minutes per game over the past four games. Senior forward Merrill Holden, a 6-8 transfer from Louisiana Tech, has started all seven games and is averaging 3.5 points and 2.3 rebounds in 17.3 minutes a game as a starter.
Holden is the Cyclones' tallest starter. The other four are no taller than 6-5.