Takeaways: Cyclones get back on track with big performances

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

Matt Belinson

Success came in rare forms for the Cyclones in their 89-82 win over the Oklahoma State Cowboys but not from unusual sources.

With three point shooting being an x-factor rather than a crutch and tons of trips to the free throw line, Iowa State got plenty of success in areas that have been long standing issues for it throughout its up and down season.

While the Cyclones got two big outings from two of their biggest scorers, the team also continued to struggle with turnovers down the stretch.

Iowa State’s dynamic duo come through

It’s no secret Iowa State has leaned on Tyrese Haliburton and Rasir Bolton to bring consistent scoring night in and night out and the two young guards came through against the Cowboys.

Bolton took the reins for the Iowa State offense right from the start, going 3-3 from three point range to give Iowa State a lead to start the game off.

His hot shooting would continue all night long, ending with 21 points on 5-11 shooting. Bolton shot 4-6 from beyond the arc and brought down a career-high nine rebounds. It is Bolton’s fifth game this season with 20 points or more.

Head coach Steve Prohm saw how much Bolton’s hot start impacted Iowa State’s confidence on offense.

“Rasir comes out of the gate and has three wide open threes, he made every one of them, obviously that’s a huge lift offensively, that’s why you’re 11-24 instead of 6-24,” Prohm said. 

The other key piece in Iowa State’s struggling offense this season has been Haliburton. Coming into Tuesday’s matchup leading the team with his 15.9 points per game, Haliburton once again showed why he is projected as a top-10 pick in the upcoming NBA draft. 

The Oshkosh, Wisconsin, native’s good night on offense came mostly from three, as he tied a career-high with six three pointers. Haliburton dropped his sixth game with at least 20 points, finishing with 20 points on 7-11 shooting.

Haliburton knows that he and Bolton will continue to lead the way on the offensive end and thinks confidence can increase after a performance on Tuesday.

“I think it was just a confidence boost for us and we gotta move on from it,” Haliburton said.

It was just the second game this season where Haliburton and Bolton both scored at least 20 points in the same game. The only other game was on Nov. 28 against Alabama when Bolton had 22 and Haliburton had 23 points.

“[Haliburton] and [Bolton] need to play well for us, that’s just the reality and when they play well and we have some post play, we have a chance to do some really good things,” Prohm said. 

More turnover issues

For the second straight game, Iowa State turned the ball over 19 times and it is the first time this year with back to back games with 15 or more turnovers.

“We didn’t close the game like we needed to,” Prohm said. 

Prohm felt his team became sloppy and careless with five minutes left in the game with Cyclones holding a 15 point lead. Iowa State rushed on offense and tried to force passes and baskets, resulting in a late Oklahoma State run that cut the Cyclone lead to five at one point.

The Cyclones have had double digit turnovers in every Big 12 game they have played except when they had nine in their win against Oklahoma.

“We turned it over way too many times, we were very sloppy and casual where we know there are going to be up the line and pressuring us and those guys did a good job adjusting to some things we threw at them that we thought may work,” Prohm said.

Getting to the foul line

Scoring didn’t just come from beyond the arc for the Cyclones on Tuesday.

Iowa State made it a mission to get the ball inside the paint against the Cowboys to try and give its perimeter scorers some breathing room, so consider it a mission accomplished.

Iowa State ended the night 28-33 from the line, the first time in five games that Iowa State attempted more than 11 free throws. The last game with over 11 attempts came on Jan. 4 when Iowa State shot 19-27 from the foul line against TCU.

It was just the third time the Cyclones ended with 30 or more attempts from the line, with each of those games ending in wins.

A majority of the action on the free throw came from Solomon Young’s career-high 13 makes on 15 attempts. Bolton was second on the team with his seven makes on eight attempts.