Takeaways: Cyclones had no answers for the Jayhawks

Sophomore guard Tyrese Haliburton during the men’s basketball game against No. 3 Kansas on Jan. 8 in Hilton Coliseum.

Matt Belinson

Nothing was working for Iowa State against the Jayhawks Wednesday night in a 79-53 blowout.

Once again, Iowa State could not defend the three point line effectively and fell on its home floor in blowout fashion for the second time this season.

Iowa State couldn’t even get Tyrese Haliburton going, putting a cherry on top of the amount of problems that arose against Kansas.

Haliburton gets shut down

One of the lone bright spots for Iowa State this season has been the play of Tyrese Haliburton.

The sophomore hailing from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, walked into the matchup with the Jayhawks second in the Big 12 with his 17.7 ppg.

Haliburton put up a 22 point triple double against TCU to begin conference play but his scoring and playmaking successes did not follow him from Fort Worth back to Ames.

On multiple occasions, Haliburton would crash toward the basket, where Kansas defenders would swarm him, forcing him to pass the ball back out or underneath to open teammates.

Kansas read Haliburton’s passing tendencies time and time again, forcing him into three turnovers early in the first half. 

Passing lanes were taken away for a guard who thrives on passing in tight windows, and forcing defenders to crash toward him and abandoning their man, but the Jayhawks took it away all night long. 

With no opportunity to get past the big men of Kansas, Haliburton optioned to shoot and attempt to heat up from the outside and did not attempt to score at the rim.

Haliburton found no luck in his shot, going 2-7 from the floor with five points. He also went 1-5 from three point range.

It was only the third time this season that Haliburton had one or fewer three point makes.

His five points on 2-7 shooting was the second worst field goal percentage of the season and his five assists ties his season low.

Haliburton had no definitive answer as to why he struggled to find his shot and what caused him to turn the ball over on occasions where he would end up with an assist.

Kansas implemented a tough ball screen defense all night, forcing Haliburton to switch on and off, throwing off his timing and spacing to get open looks to pass or shoot.

“I really just gotta get in and watch film tomorrow to figure it out,” Haliburton said. 

Bill Self, head coach of the Jayhawks, knows how good Haliburton is which led to him being unaware and surprised that Haliburton did not have a single point in the first half.

“I didn’t realize until halftime that he didn’t score at half,” Self said. 

Self said he saw his guys show a desire to deny Haliburton open looks but also believed Haliburton might not be 100 percent healthy.

Haliburton got his first points of the night at the 15:29 mark of the second half.

A continued lack of three-point defense

A three point barrage from Kansas doomed the Cyclones Wednesday night, a rare sight to see from the No. 3 Jayhawks.

Up until Wednesday night, Kansas’ season high from three point range was its 46.7 percentage against Monmouth after hitting 14-30 three pointers on Nov. 15.

Kansas got a new season high with its 52 percent clip against the Cyclones after hitting 10-19 from distance.

For head coach Steve Prohm, Iowa State could not match the physical play and quickness of the Kansas offense from the opening tip. 

Kansas’ Ochai Agbaji knocked down a corner-three to open the game for Kansas—after Iowa Sate failed to guard a ball screen effectively to open the game.

The struggles would not stop for the Cyclones the rest of the game.

After shooting 6-8 from three in the first half, Steve Prohm knew Kansas would be tough to stop from there on.

“They physically overwhelmed us from three and in the paint those last eight minutes [of the first half] and that was the difference of the game,” Prohm said. “They killed us from three in the first half.” 

Michael Jacobson echoed his coach’s feelings on Iowa State’s inability to defend the three point line and the floor as a whole for yet another game.

Jacobson said if Iowa State fails to get stops, it takes away transition offense, a big component of how Iowa State wants to score. 

“We still aren’t getting it done defensively, I mean 10-19 from three for them and 28-54 from the field overall, so I think it again it comes down to defense,” Jacobson said.

Prohm said Iowa State wanted to push Kansas out of the post where its bigs could dominate and wanted slide under ball screens brought by Kansas. The Cyclones began sliding under too deep and took bad angles, allowing Kansas to hit constantly from beyond the arc.

This is now the sixth time Iowa State has allowed its opponents to hit at least 46 percent of their three point attempts. Only one of those games was a win — that game against Alabama.

Iowa State allowed Oregon State to hit 57 percent of its three pointers, Michigan shot 47.6 from distance, Alabama hit 46.2 of its threes, Florida A&M connected on 57.1 of its threes, TCU hit 51.9 of its threes and now Kansas with its 52 percent performance.

“We gotta figure out how to get the swagger and toughness back on the defensive end,” Prohm said.

“We didn’t guard Kansas at all from beginning to end.”

A historically bad loss

Iowa State now has three losses in Hilton Coliseum with just two conference games in the books.

After being “embarrassed” by Iowa 84-68 on Dec. 12 and then losing in Hilton to Florida A&M on Dec. 31 70-68, the 79-53 loss to Kansas adds yet another example to the lack of home court advantage Iowa State has had to start the season.

This year’s team is already on pace to surpass the four losses the 2018-19 Cyclone’s had at home.

Even before the blowout loss to Kansas, Iowa State had a historically bad start at defending home court.

Before this season, Iowa State had not lost two home games before conference play began since the 2008-09 season when the Cyclones lost to both Drake and South Dakota State. Iowa State finished 14-6 at home that season.

Prohm said that the early struggles are a time for the team to come together and respond to the adversity in front of them.

“Now it’s just a character and a gut check,” Prohm said. “We gotta be ready to respond.”