Takeaways: The number-one prospect shines as Cowboys thrive in transition

Iowa State Head Coach Steve Prohm talks to the Cyclones during a timeout against Kansas on Feb. 13.

Matt Belinson

A relatively healthy roster couldn’t secure Iowa State its first conference win Tuesday in Stillwater, Oklahoma, against the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

The loss continued Iowa State in its free fall of losing, with Tuesday’s defeat marking the program’s 15th straight conference loss dating back to Feb. 29, 2020.

Oklahoma State won 76-58, picking apart the Cyclones in transition while the Cowboys’ leading man took control from the jump, putting Iowa State in a tough spot early and often.

Cade Cunningham plays like the No. 1 pick

There’s only been a few lead-ups to the NBA Draft cycle when the number-one pick has a lead contender even before he begins his college career.

Cade Cunningham is one of those players and Tuesday he gave more reasons why.

The freshman guard dropped 21 points on 7-12 shooting, 4-6 from 3-point range along with five rebounds and seven assists. Iowa State as a team had nine total assists. It was his fifth straight game of 15 points or more.

In his breakout freshman season, Cunningham has been prone to saving his big performances for the second halves of games and come out slow on offense. The former five-star recruit scored 15 of his 21 points in the first half against Iowa State.

With the college basketball season nearing the postseason, ESPN still ranks Cunningham as the best player available in the draft class.

Transition issues

George Conditt said a key for Iowa State was to limit how much Oklahoma State operated in transition Tuesday, whether it be limiting live-ball turnovers or getting numbers to crowd the lanes and basket.

The Cyclones didn’t do what they were supposed to and Conditt said they got exposed because of it.

“Not getting back on transition defense, that was a major key for us to try and get back. We weren’t getting back and they exposed us on that,” Conditt said postgame.

Conditt said the team was not engaged and giving enough energy in transition defense and offense, allowing Oklahoma State to do what it wanted with a fast pace.

Oklahoma State had 26 points off turnovers and beat Iowa State 19-4 in fast-break points. Those two stats combined for 59 percent of Oklahoma State’s 76 points in Stillwater.

The Cowboys’ 26 points off turnovers was their second highest in Big 12 play this season, with the most being 27 points off giveaways against TCU on Dec. 12.

Iowa State Head Coach Steve Prohm said Iowa State failed to execute like it needed to Tuesday, citing a lack of awareness and intensity for his group.

Prohm said Oklahoma State served as a good example for what Iowa State wants to be going forward, a team who lives at a fast pace and uses tough defense to get quick baskets in transition. 

Like most things for Iowa State this season, working well in transition has been a struggle.

“That’s an area we’ve really struggled of really being able to flood to the paint and then flood back out to shooters and not give up easy opportunities,” Prohm said.

Coleman-Lands continues to score

Moral victories don’t appear next to a team’s conference record at the end of the season, but Iowa State has been getting steady scoring from Jalen Coleman-Lands as of late.

The senior transfer from DePaul led Iowa State on Tuesday with 17 points on 5-11 shooting in his 33 minutes of action. The guard transfer was absent for Iowa State’s first meeting with the Cowboys on Jan. 25 and made his presence felt immediately. 

Coleman-Lands scored seven of Iowa State’s first 11 points of the game and is averaging 19 points per game over his last three games at a 47 percent clip.