‘It’s unacceptable’: Cyclones fail to pick up a home win in conference play

Iowa State men’s basketball players huddle together during the team’s 81-67 loss to Texas on March 2. 

Zane Douglas

Heading into Tuesday night’s matchup with the Texas Longhorns, Iowa State was winless at home during Big 12 Conference play. In its final home game of the season, Iowa State did not deliver, falling 0-9 at home against Big 12 teams and closing the door on a historically bad year at Hilton Coliseum.

After the game, Head Coach Steve Prohm didn’t mince words.

“It’s unacceptable. I mean, we all know that. I know that,” Prohm said. “I’ve been here six years. I know the history of the program as good as anybody. This program has been a part of great NCAA Tournament runs. This program’s got great guys playing in the NBA right now. We’ve got guys successful all over the world right now, whether it’s professionally, business, coaching, done a lot of really, really good things, so yeah, it’s unacceptable.”

It wasn’t the first game Iowa State kept itself in until the end. Despite the final score of 81-67, Iowa State’s second loss to Texas saw the Cyclones claw themselves back in the game multiple times due to timely shooting and, at times, solid defense.

It wasn’t enough, as has been the story the whole season, and Iowa State was dealt not just its ninth conference home loss but its 16th conference loss altogether in its last 16 tries.

The rough season has translated to some players, one of which, junior forward George Conditt IV, has been playing better lately and tallied his season-high point total Tuesday with 11 points. 

With no conference wins, however, Conditt is looking at the team and the program as it inches closer to a winless conference season, not so much how well he might have played.

“I don’t want to end the season like that,” Conditt said in reference to the team possibly having no conference win this year. “I’ve been a part of this program for awhile, and this is not an Iowa State thing. Coming close to top-ranked teams isn’t an Iowa State thing. Texas is a great team, all the teams in the Big 12 are great teams, but … there’s no moral win at Iowa State.”

Just two seasons ago, Iowa State was a six seed in the NCAA Tournament after winning the Big 12 Conference Tournament. The last two years haven’t gone Iowa State’s way, especially this season, when the Cyclones have fallen flat for a period spanning over two months now.

If the Cyclones’ woes weren’t big enough already, they were dealt a blow before the game even started when leading scorer and floor-general Rasir Bolton was ruled out after injuring his ankle against TCU on Saturday.

That loomed large in the game against Texas, especially in the first half, when Iowa State was hit with 14 turnovers, spread out among numerous ball-handlers.

Cyclones guard Jalen Coleman-Lands said the team had enough depth to make up for the loss, but Bolton has helped Iowa State limit turnovers this season while providing the biggest spark of any Cyclone in the scoring department.

For seniors like Coleman-Lands, losing every conference game at home is not a good way to go out, but there are still two conference games left for the Cyclones — both being away games.

“I don’t want us to leave without getting a conference win,” Conditt said. “That’s very upsetting.”

Those two games won’t have any affect on conference tournament seeding as Iowa State has firmly locked itself into 10th place in the Big 12 with Tuesday’s loss, but the Cyclones will be trying to gain some momentum before the Big 12 Tournament begins.

For Prohm, it’s about more than that.

“You can talk about being close and getting better, but the bottom line is the program’s expected to be in the NCAA Tournament,” Prohm said. “It’s expected to go to Kansas City next weekend, and we’re the defending champs ’cause we had to cancel last year. It’s expected to go down there and make a great run. It’s expected to be in the tournament. It’s expected to be a tradition-rich program with great people and great personnel.”

“No question, I mean, losing is unacceptable. I understand that more than anybody.”