Takeaways: Poor play is becoming a theme for the Cyclones

Senior guard Prentiss Nixon fighting for a ball during the Iowa State basketball game against Oklahoma on Jan. 11.

Matt Belinson

Iowa State capped off its brutal week on the road with yet another blowout loss to a ranked opponent, this time it was a 72-52 loss to No. 23 Texas Tech that shined a light once again on some of the biggest issues Iowa State has dealt with all season.

From sloppy turnovers, poor shooting (once again) and a historically bad start to a season that still has 13 games left to play, the Cyclones had nearly everything go wrong for them against the Red Raiders on Saturday in Lubbock, Texas.

The issues that showed up against the Red Raiders weren’t new by any stretch, in fact, Iowa State has struggled in its shooting and turnovers all season but Saturday put yet another cap on how bad it has been this season.

Turnover issues 

Of all the issues that hurt the Cyclones the most on Saturday, the amount of turnovers the Cyclones had was certainly one of the biggest reasons for the 20-point blowout.

Iowa State found itself in multiple stretches in need of baskets to respond to the Raider’s ability to score in transition and the ability to hit threes in the second half.

Yet more often than not, Iowa State would shoot itself in the foot with bad passes, offensive fouls or travels that would take away opportunities to score.

The ugly possessions on offense began as soon as the game tipped-off and would plague the Cyclones until nearly halfway through the first half.

At the first media timeout in the first half at the 15:48 mark, Iowa State had more turnovers than points.

The Cyclones had one bucket fall with a Michael Jacobson layup but besides that, Iowa State had five turnovers and two points in the first five minutes of action.

It wouldn’t be until the nine minute mark of the first half that Iowa State would finally have more points than turnovers.

The Cyclones had amassed nine turnovers to go along with eight points, until Tyrese Haliburton made a dunk at the 9:02 mark of the first half to at last give the Cyclones more points than turnovers to make it a 13-10 Texas Tech lead. 

As previously mentioned, the sloppy play and overwhelming amount of turnovers was nothing new for the Cyclones this season.

The Cyclones set a new season-high with 20 turnovers against the Raiders on Saturday, including 11 in the first half. The previous season-high was 18 turnovers in its loss to the Florida A&M Rattlers on Dec 31, 2019.

This is now the ninth time in the 17 games Iowa State has played that it has double-digit turnovers — the fourth time with 15 or more turnovers.

Texas Tech took advantage of the Cyclone’s sloppy play, scoring 32 of its 72 points off Iowa State’s 20 turnovers.

In each of Iowa State’s four Big 12 losses, they have had double-digit turnovers but in its lone conference win over Oklahoma, the Cyclones had only nine turnovers.

Historically low scoring continues

In a season that still has 13 games left to play, it already looks like this could be one of Iowa State’s worst seasons in terms of scoring output since Steve Prohm took over in 2015.

Iowa State has now lost three games this season scoring under 60 points, with all three coming in Big 12 play to Kansas, Baylor and now Texas Tech.

The lack of scoring has not always been an issue for Prohm’s teams of the past, particularly a season ago where Iowa State saw few issues scoring the basketball.

Just a season ago, Iowa State lost two games all season scoring less than 60 points in a 58-57 loss to Kansas State and its early exit to Ohio State in the NCAA Tournament in a 62-59 loss.

This season is almost on-par (for all of the golf lovers out there) with the 2017-18 season for Iowa State in which the team finished the season with five losses scoring less than 60 points — the worst of which was a 68-45 loss to No. 22 Tennessee in Hilton Coliseum. 

Under Prohm, the Cyclones had previously never had a season in which they lost more than one game scoring 55 or fewer points — with 13 games left this season, Iowa State already has three of those losses on its ledger. 

Lack of three point shooting (again)

The longest running issue for the Cyclones showed no signs of stopping on Saturday against Texas Tech.

The Cyclones have struggled to find consistent three-point shooting all season long and through five games in Big 12, Iowa State has shown it has major issues shooting from beyond the arc.

Over Iowa State’s last five games, it has shot 57-172 from three, good for a 33.1 percent clip. In its five Big 12 contests, Iowa State has been even worse, shooting 35-122 at a 28.6 percent rate.

Saturday saw more of the same in terms of the horrid shooting from three, with the Cyclones shooting 0-13 in the first half.

A three wouldn’t fall until the second half, when Tyrese Haliburton knocked down Iowa State’s first triple with 12:09 left in the second half. Haliburton shot 1-5 from three against the Raiders. 

All other starters for the Cyclones shot 0-14 from three, with Prentiss Nixon shooting 0-7 from distance.

The Cyclones finished the game 3-22 from three but the final pair of three pointers would be too little too late. Tre Jackson made it 70-47 with two minutes left with his first triple and then hit his second three pointer with six seconds left with the game far out of reach.