Takeaways: Same old story for the Cyclones

Senior Prentiss Nixon navigates between defenders against Texas Tech on Feb. 22 in Hilton Coliseum.

Matt Belinson

In Iowa State’s position, losing to Texas Tech on Saturday was not shocking by any means.

The Red Raiders came in 8-5 in the Big 12, sitting in third place and ranked in the top-25 for a majority of the season. After beating Iowa State by 20 in the first matchup in Lubbock, Texas, 72-52, a loss would have come as no surprise.

After 10 minutes had passed, any hope of an upset by the Cyclones was erased, and the Red Raiders never looked back.

Texas Tech walked into Hilton Coliseum and handed Iowa State an 87-57 loss, the worst margin of defeat (30 points) in Hilton Coliseum history.

Glaring defensive issues aside, the Cyclones had other concerning factors that showed up on the way to the blowout loss to Texas Tech.

Lack of high-volume point guard play

When Tyrese Haliburton went down for the year, Head Coach Steve Prohm said he felt comfortable about who would step in and become the No. 1 point guard and facilitator for Iowa State, with capable guards like Rasir Bolton and Prentiss Nixon waiting in the wings.

But since the injury of the star point guard, Iowa State has not found point guard play that has been close to consistent.

Nixon has been no stranger to struggles this season but has started to find his groove as of lately after scoring in double figures in three straight games.

His scoring success would meet its abrupt end Saturday night.

Nixon ended his 39 minutes of action with 9 points on 4-15 shooting, 1-6 from three with four turnovers. The 9 point effort is now the 10th game out of Iowa State’s 14 Big 12 games where Nixon has scored below double figures.

Nixon has become the primary ball handler for the Cyclones, with most possessions on offense with the ball in his hands ending with a highly contested mid-range jumper or floater that has not been able to fall in at a high clip. The newly run offense has led to Nixon having to have the ball stick in his hands with teams loading up on the pressure, forcing the Colorado State transfer into quick decision-making and quick shots with the shot clock nearly full.

Over his last four outings, Nixon has accumulated 15 turnovers as the No. 1 point option.

On the other end of the spectrum, Bolton had a quiet 13 points against the Red Raiders on 5-11 shooting from the field. Bolton also tied a season-high with his five turnovers in his 34 minutes of time on the floor.

Bolton was looked at by Prohm and others on the team to be the main point with Haliburton gone, but with Nixon playing over 36 minutes in his last four games, Bolton has taken a back seat in the offense.

Since Haliburton’s season-ending injury, Bolton has not attempted more than five shots per game and has gone to the free-throw line five times.

The lack of drives to the basket and foul line visits have taken a big part away from Bolton’s game, with Prohm saying multiple times throughout the season that Bolton is Iowa State’s best player going downhill toward the basket and drawing contact. Bolton’s aggressive turn toward the basket has taken a dip over the last two weeks, and with his reduced shot selection from the perimeter, the sophomore’s lack of turns toward the rim have played a part in his lower scoring output than usual.

With four games left in the regular season, the consistency Iowa State gets out of its point guard play will play a factor in how many more wins or losses are added by season’s end.

The Jahmi’us Ramsey show

If Iowa State was decreasing faith in the Cyclones, then Jahmi’us Ramsey played his part in providing a non-stop scoring show for all in Hilton Coliseum to see.

The first ever five-star recruit at Texas Tech, ranked as a five star by Rivals and the No. 12 recruit in the nation, led his team in scoring and had no trouble getting to the basket and letting his shots fly against the absent defense of Iowa State.

Ramsey scored 25 points on 11-22 shooting, 2-5 from three, five rebounds and a career-high seven assists. The 25-point performance was Ramsey’s second game in Big 12 play with 25 points or more.

Averaging 16.3 points per game, good for second in the Big 12, Ramsey’s ability to get up and around defenders in transition and in set defense made Iowa State confused all night. Ramsey was left wide open on two 3-point shots, both of which he made. 

Home court advantage?

It seems like every other game at Hilton Coliseum this season has been anything but magical.

Saturday’s 30-point blowout was the worst margin of defeat in the history of Hilton Coliseum, but believe it or not, big home losses have not been few and far between for Iowa State on its home floor this season.

Every single home loss, besides the 70-68 loss to Florida A&M on Dec. 31, which many national college basketball pundits and college basketball indexes already have declared as the worst loss in Division I history, has been by at least 14 points. 

Iowa State lost by 14 to Baylor on Jan. 29, 26 to Kansas on Jan. 8 and 84-68 to in-state rival Iowa on Dec. 12, and those are just the decided home losses. 

Ending the season with a home matchup against No. 17 West Virginia, who already beat Iowa State by 15 in Morgantown, West Virginia, will be the final test to see if Iowa State can bring Hilton Coliseum back to the home court it once was viewed as nationally.