Three Big Takeaways: Ice-cold shooting, Iowa State’s tournament run ends early


Jacob Rice

Gabe Kalscheur drives the ball at the 2023 Big 12 Tournament Semifinals in the T-Mobile Center, Mar. 10.

Christian Royston, Sports Editor

The Cyclones couldn’t shake their late-season issues, as they fell to Pitt 59-41 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Cold shooting was the main theme for the Cyclones, as nearly every shot they put up fell shy of a basket. The Cyclones finished the night with historically rough shooting, scoring their second-lowest points of all time in the big dance.

When the Cyclones needed a basket the most, nothing came. The Cyclones ended their season in the first round, scoring just over 40 points.

When everything that could go wrong goes wrong

Pitt started off hot, taking an early 13-1 lead. Pitt was suffocating on defense, getting multiple blocks before the five-minute mark.

Blake Hinson took a deep shot early in the game to put the Panthers up by 12. One possession later, Pitt sank another three. With the Cyclones not able to make even a single basket, it looked like Pitt couldn’t miss.

Iowa State missed every single one of its first eight shots. Whatever the Cyclones put up just wouldn’t fall through the rim. Tre King and Gabe Kalscheur even missed early free throws.

Iowa State was 0-3 from three, while Pitt knocked down all three of its three-point attempts. 

Nearly halfway through the first half, Iowa State was trailing 22-2. By the 10-minute mark, Iowa State still hadn’t hit one basket. The Cyclones were 0-11 from the field. 

Holmes and Kalscheur: Iowa State’s saviors

The Cyclones couldn’t have asked for a worse start to a game than they had.

Missing eleven-straight shots most likely wasn’t in their game plan. Trailing by 20, someone finally took charge, and that was Jaren Holmes.

Holmes drove to the rim and put up a shot to double the Cyclones’ points on the day. Then one possession later, Holmes did the same thing. He drove to the rim and scored.

It wasn’t anything fancy, but it was what the Cyclones needed.

Then it was Kalscheur’s turn to get in on the action. As the Cyclones were looking to surge back, shots were still falling flat.

After a few rebounds on a sloppy possession, Kalscheur found himself wide open from beyond the arc and let it rip. As the ball fell through the net, the tides looked to be shifting.

From that moment, it was back-and-forth for Holmes and Kalschuer. With just under four minutes left in the half, the Cyclones were on a 17-4 run.

Pitt’s lead was down to seven, while Holmes and Kalscheur were up to eight points each. Whatever funk Iowa State was in early on was gone. It was time for the Cyclones to play.

With time ticking down in the first half, freshman Tamin Lipsey got the jump on one of Pitt’s passes and intercepted the ball to score a basket on the other end. Iowa State officially cut Pitt’s 20-point lead down to five.

New half, same issues

With the Cyclones trailing by seven at the start of the second half, the momentum looked to be in their favor.

However, similar to the first half, cold shooting plagued the Cyclones early into the second half. Shots weren’t falling from anywhere on the court, and Pitt started to extend its lead.

The shooting wasn’t just eerily familiar to the first half, it was an exact replica. Iowa State started 1-11 from the field again.

Halfway through the second half, Pitt’s lead was still over double figures. Although Iowa State was getting shots here and there, the baskets were coming too inconsistently to make a big dent in the lead.

With six minutes left, Pitt started to heat up. One dunk and one layup later, Pitt was up by 14. Iowa State had missed 17 of its last 18 shot attempts.

Through the first 35 minutes of the game, the Cyclones only hit one three-pointer. If they ended with just one made three, they would make history. But not in a good way.

It had been over 25 years since a Cyclone team made just one three in the NCAA Tournament.

With four minutes to play, Pitt finished off a four-point play to go up by 20. Iowa State’s NCAA Tournament run was over just as fast as it started.

Iowa State finally made a second three-pointer with two minutes left. At that point, it was too little too late.

The Cyclones finished the game shooting 23 percent from the field, making 2-21 from three.