Takeaways: Iowa State makes history worth forgetting against Texas

Jalen Coleman-Lands drives the baseline to pass the ball to a teammate against Texas on March 2 in Hilton Coliseum. (Courtesy of Luke Lu/Iowa State Athletics)

Matt Belinson

‘Unacceptable’, ’embarrassing’, ‘not an Iowa State thing’. Those were all words Iowa State players and Head Coach Steve Prohm used to describe the 0-9 conference record Iowa State holds in Hilton Coliseum after a 81-67 loss to Texas on Tuesday.

Losing to the Longhorns wasn’t just the final nail in the coffin for Iowa State’s chances of winning a Big 12 game at Hilton, but also served as another dark chapter of history for this 2020-21 season.

Hilton history (And not the good kind)

In a season defined by the mounting losses, the storylines have gone relatively dry. There’s only so many ways to say a team is struggling with only two games left in the regular season, but the Cyclones’ loss to the 15th-ranked Longhorns provided a new angle to their 2-19 season.

Tuesday’s loss marked the first time ever Iowa State has gone a Big 12 season without a home conference win since joining the league in 1996.

Since Iowa State joined the Big Eight Conference in the 1958-59 season and then eventually moved to the Big 12 in 1996, the program had never had a season without a home win in conference play. Until Tuesday.

Prohm told the media postgame he realizes the situation Iowa State is faced with and how bad the losing has gotten with just two conference games left to avoid a “0” in the Big 12 win column. 

“No question. I mean 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 this 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 and so yeah, it’s unacceptable.”

Iowa State junior forward George Conditt had one of his better games of the season Tuesday night, but most of the big-man’s postgame was spent talking about the unusual and out-of-character losing the Cyclones have dealt with this season.

For Conditt, there’s two games left for Iowa State to avoid the sting of a winless Big 12 season. 

“Personally, I don’t want to end the season like that [with no conference wins], no one does, but I know for me I’ve been a part of this program for a while and it’s not an Iowa State thing,” Conditt said.

‘The difference in the game’

Texas and Iowa State were locked in a slow slugfest to open the game in the first seven minutes, but it wouldn’t stay that way for long.

Beginning at the 12:49 mark of the first half, Texas would go on a 17-0 run lasting 5:32 that Prohm and his players called ‘the difference in the game’ in postgame interviews.

Jalen Coleman-Lands finished with a team-high 22 points for the Cyclones and helped down the stretch in trying to bring the game back to a reasonable deficit. Despite his efforts, Iowa State could never get back in the game, thanks to the unraveling of the team for over five minutes in the opening frame.

“That was a snowball-effect in the first half that we nipped in the butt in the second half but those were things where the little details like we mentioned, that’s what put us in that situation and good teams, nationally-ranked teams and with a great coach, those deficits are holes that it’s hard to get out of,” Coleman-Lands said.

Iowa State has to do a better job of taking care of things before it gets out of hand in Coleman-Lands view, but the issue has been bugging the team all year. Details and coming out of the gate locked-in were two points of emphasis for Coleman-Lands for the final two games of the regular season.

Prohm came right out and said it after the loss: Texas essentially won the game in its 17-0 stretch.

“That 5-6 minute stretch was the difference in the game. I mean that’s the bottom line,” Prohm said. “We were able to get the game back manageable and we had a good second half for the most part but that little run was the difference in the game.”

George Conditt playing more comfortable

There have not been many bright spots amongst the losses for the Cyclones this season, but as of late, Conditt has steadily improved as a shot-blocker and scorer compared to how he began his junior season.

He said it all starts with how comfortable he’s been playing over his last four games.

“The past few games I’ve been picking up my play and I just felt really comfortable,” Conditt said.

Conditt played 22 minutes on Tuesday, four more than Solomon Young and made his mark. The Chicago, Illinois, native went 5-8 from the field with a season-high 11 points, five rebounds and one block.

Over his last four games, Conditt is averaging 4.7 points, 1.5 blocks and 5.5 rebounds. 

Conditt said he’s been able to respond quickly from adversity in games more often and has reminded himself after tough moments to come back ready to produce immediately. 

“I missed my first and second shot and I brushed it off and said, ‘Next shot, keep going.’