Takeaways: Poor shooting and shot selection sinks Iowa State

Iowa State redshirt junior forward Javan Johnson moves up the floor against South Dakota State on Dec. 2 at Hilton Coliseum. 

Zane Douglas

In what ended up being a close contest Wednesday, Iowa State men’s basketball suffered its first loss of the season as the South Dakota State Jackrabbits walked out of Hilton Coliseum with a 71-68 win.

The Cyclones got off to a slow start that sustained itself through the first half of play, letting South Dakota State have a comfortable lead.

It wasn’t until the end of the second half that Iowa State started coming back in the game.

Slow starts in two straight

The slow start for Iowa State wasn’t just a one-time occurrence, as Iowa State had the same trouble against Arkansas-Pine Bluff in its first game of the season.

The heavily favored Cyclones were actually losing at halftime to the Golden Lions 37-34 and only a 46-26 second half gave Iowa State the advantage in its season opener.

Iowa State could see a lot of this in the season, with one of its key players, sophomore guard Tre Jackson, sustaining an injury that will sideline him for a couple weeks before the season even started.

Iowa State is also dealing with a ton of new personnel that hasn’t played together in game action very often, with four freshmen and three transfers to fit in.

The growing pains could continue and right now it’s showing up in slow starts to the first half.

Three-point miscues

Something the Cyclones did a lot in the 2019-20 season was allow themselves to shoot a lot of low percentage 3-point looks. Against South Dakota State, it was more of the same.

Iowa State finished the game 4-23 from three and the four shots that went in weren’t particularly pretty.

The first made three was from Tyler Harris, who found an open look and drilled it for Iowa State’s first three on its first attempt.

The Cyclones went one for their next 19 on shots from distance, with the only make in that time being a Javan Johnson pull-up three while the shot clock was running down.

A couple late makes from graduate transfer Jalen Coleman-Lands on tough looks brought the Cyclones up to a still dismal 17.4 percent from downtown.

The stars aligned as the Cyclones took low percentage shots and had an off day on the open shots it got and it made for a poor shooting performance.

Defensive shortcomings

Perhaps the only thing that could rival Iowa State’s outside shooting woes Wednesday was its defense, specifically its defense around the perimeter.

The Cyclones allowed nine threes on 25 attempts for a 36 percent 3-point percentage, but against South Dakota State’s top two scorers it was much worse.

Sophomores Noah Freidel and Baylor Scheierman combined to hit eight of its teams nine threes on just 17 attempts.

Many of the threes were at important times in the second half, when Iowa State was threatening to come back or make a run.

Perhaps the most important of Scheierman’s threes came after an Iowa State run cut the Jackrabbit lead to just seven points, but the South Dakota State guard buried a three, which was followed by an Iowa State Head Coach Steve Prohm technical foul, giving South Dakota State two free throws.

The play changed the momentum of the game and while Iowa State found momentum again, it couldn’t bridge the gap of some of those key 3-pointers down the stretch.