Takeaways: Iowa State navigates interesting circumstances in loss

Junior forward George Conditt attempts to block Kalib Boone’s shot attempt in an 81-60 loss against the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Jan. 25.

Zane Douglas

The Cyclones were dealt a weird hand Monday as only eight players were able to suit up for Iowa State’s men’s basketball team.

The game took place in Ames, and Iowa State was playing conference rival Oklahoma State, who was also shorthanded — the Cowboys didn’t have former No. 1 high school basketball recruit in the nation Cade Cunningham, according to 247sports.

The game didn’t end particularly close with Oklahoma State pulling away for an 81-60 beatdown, but the Cyclones kept it close for much of the game given the circumstances.

Post issues are amplified

Iowa State has played small-ball all season, usually only keeping one of Solomon Young, George Conditt IV or Xavier Foster on the floor at a time.

Conditt was the only Cyclone big man available Monday, and while he provided a solid spark for the Cyclones when he was in, it was the time he was out that made the biggest difference. And he was out for a while.

The junior was dealt a pair of fouls early, including what Prohm called a “cheap” foul before missing the final 13:41 of the first half. This resulted in freshmen wings Darlinstone Dubar and Dudley Blackwell taking over as the lead post players. Dubar and Blackwell are both 6 foot, 6 inches.

The young Cyclones suffered as a result, with Dubar and Blackwell combining to go 2-14 overall and 0-9 from inside the 3-point line.

“In this landscape, maybe I should’ve played [Conditt] a little bit more and just seen,” Iowa State Head Coach Steve Prohm said. “I thought he did alright in his time, just obviously the foul trouble hurt him.”

The issues were even more apparent on the glass.

Oklahoma State pulled down 49 rebounds, 13 of which were offensive, while the Cyclones only managed 19 total rebounds, and only four of those provided second chances on offense.

Conditt picked up a couple more fouls in the second half, and Iowa State couldn’t keep up with the Cowboys, who scored 32 of their 41 first-half points in the paint.

Iowa State’s only true big man played 16 minutes.

Opening up new possibilities

The tough situation for Prohm’s group did open the door for some lineups and rotations in the game that hadn’t been seen before. Prohm got a better look at some players who have struggled to find regular playing time during the season.

The biggest contributor of the regular bench players was freshman guard Jaden Walker.

Walker had 8 points (a career high) on 3-6 shooting, nailed a 3-pointer on three tries, added a pair of rebounds, assists and blocks and topped it off with three steals. He also played a career-high 34 minutes.

“I thought [Walker] had good activity, I thought he made some good athletic plays,” Prohm said. “Some things I think can translate as we go forward.”

He had his hands in passing lanes and he was challenging shooters with high energy defense.

The other two available freshmen struggled, but extended time gave Prohm a look at how they may fare with extended minutes in the future.

Dubar was the most disappointing, going 1-10 shooting and 0-6 on 2-point attempts, but he was tasked with matching up against bigger players than him all game due to the odd circumstances.

Whatever the case, Iowa State learned some things about its roster depth Monday.

A surprisingly needed break

After four postponements, a break doesn’t seem like something a team should want, but the nearly week-long hiatus Iowa State gets until its matchup against Mississippi State on Saturday should help with personnel moving forward.

It could be the case that the total number of active players stays the same, but even if that’s the case, it will still give the Cyclones the chance to get closer to returning to full strength as well as rest up some overworked players from Monday.

Tyler Harris and Rasir Bolton played 40 and 38 minutes, respectively, and the latter of the two suffered a minor injury that forced him out for a minute of game time before he returned.