Takeaways: Cyclones show fight in loss to Oklahoma

Redshirt junior Javan Johnson shoots the ball against Texas Tech on Jan. 9 in Hilton Coliseum.

Zane Douglas

From Iowa State’s perspective, there was a lot to like about the 79-72 loss to No. 9 Oklahoma on Saturday.

First off, the Cyclones kept pace with the No. 9 team in the country, which isn’t an easy feat in it of itself. There were a handful of numbers and statistics that gave the Cyclones a good day as well, even in the team’s eighth conference loss.

Full-strength squad

Iowa State welcomed back its last player who was missing time due to health and safety protocols of COVID-19 on Saturday in the form of redshirt junior forward Javan Johnson.

Johnson started off the game poorly, turning the ball over twice and showing his rust, but the Troy transfer turned it around to have a solid 25 minutes of play, with 11 points, five rebounds, two assists and two blocks while limiting his turnovers to just two.

The junior didn’t get a chance to start in the game but played in important minutes and could see a similar path to Jalen Coleman-Lands and Solomon Young who had one game back off the bench before returning to the starting lineup.

Coleman-Lands went 4-13 shooting with 11 points in his third game back while Young had 12 points on 6-16 shooting and five rebounds in his second game back and first game back in the starting lineup.

Guard Tre Jackson also played his second game back and added 9 points of his own.

Distance shooting masks the misses

Inside the 3-point arc, Iowa State had an abysmal day, missing open shots consistently and being met at the rim with resistance, but that wasn’t the case outside the arc.

On Iowa State’s 31 3-point attempts against Oklahoma, the Cyclones made 16 of them, good for a percentage of 51.6 percent.

Iowa State’s 3-point barrage was led by an unlikely source in junior guard Rasir Bolton, who had just nine 3s in 12 games coming into the game against the Sooners. Bolton would finish with five 3-pointers Saturday on just eight attempts.

Only four other Cyclones would make a 3-pointer in the game, but all four of those players made two or more. Coleman-Lands and Jackson each went 3-8 from downtown while Johnson hit 3-4 from deep in his return from being out for health and safety protocols.

Iowa State’s main 3-point shooter during the two-game stretch where players were missing for health and safety was guard Tyler Harris, who added two 3-pointers in three attempts.

Size issues are hidden

While Oklahoma still gave the Cyclones fits on 2-point attempts, Iowa State was able to hide some of the issues that it has faced pertaining to lack of size because Oklahoma played small-ball as well.

With Brady Manek as the loan big man for much of the game for Oklahoma, the Sooners had a team similar in size to Iowa State, allowing for easier interior defense for the Cyclones.

Iowa State was still outrebounded 40-30, but Manek was limited to just 9 points on 4-7 shooting. Oklahoma’s guards are what saved the Sooners as they hit outside shots and long-range 2s all game long to stay with, and ultimately beat, the Cyclones.

It resulted in another loss for a skidding Iowa State team, but on the road against a top 10 team in the country is a tough contest and one that Iowa State shouldn’t hang its hat on too much considering some of the other games it has played.