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Three Big Takeaways: Iowa State’s miracle attempt falls short in loss to No. 18 Baylor

Tyler Coe
Milan Momcilovic runs down the court after he banks in a three pointer to end the half against Green Bay during the season opener at Hilton Coliseum on Nov. 6, 2023.

Cold shooting in the first half and missed opportunities from the free-throw line line overshadowed Iowa State’s second-half efforts in its 70-68 loss on the road to Baylor.

The Cyclones fell behind early to the Bears, which had them fighting back throughout the night despite small moments with the lead.

Even with a miracle attempt at the end of the game, the Cyclones could not overcome their overall road struggles.

Cyclones fail to get offense going early

The game started as once again another tight defensive battle with neither team getting into their offense early on. Each team had three turnovers in the first four minutes with neither the Cyclones nor the Bears taking advantage of their awarded defensive efforts.

Baylor was the first to settle into its offense, which gave it momentum throughout the rest of the opening half.

Iowa State saw a seven-point deficit seven minutes into the first half, which it chipped away at with improved passing inside which led to easy buckets.

The Cyclones’ momentary success inside quickly devolved back to their earlier efforts, which Baylor took advantage of. Iowa State at one point went on a three minute scoring drought, and in that time, the Bears scored 12 points to climb out to a 33-21 lead.

A recurring issue for the Cyclones made its return against the Bears as Iowa State’s constant double teams left Baylor players wide-open behind the arc. The myriad of open Baylor shooters led to the Bears finishing the first half 7-of-11 from 3-point land, which was a big reason for Iowa State’s 12 point deficit at halftime.

Iowa State finished the first half 10-for-28 from the field, including 3-for-8 from 3-point land and could not keep up with Baylor’s hot first-half shooting.

Roller coaster of emotions and runs

Iowa State picked up its offense in the second half but failed to keep Baylor from continuing its first half success. The Bears constantly found open lanes which the Cyclones did not fill up.

Every basket Iowa State found through the first eight minutes of the second half, Baylor answered back.

The game took a confusing turn when Baylor head coach Scott Drew was given his second technical foul, resulting in an ejection with 11 minutes left in the second half.

Two free throws for Iowa State to cut the Bear lead to seven, followed by another technical foul on the next possession, which led to another pair of free throws from Curtis Jones to put the Cyclones within four points.

Baylor’s mistakes continued to snowball with fouls and turnovers, which Iowa State took advantage of and jumped out to a 59-54 lead. The Cyclones took control of the game with a 14-3 run after the Drew ejection.

Even with some mental errors from the Bears, Iowa State still failed to run away with the game. Baylor kept its composure and bounced back late in the second half, and with seven scoreless points, it held a 68-64 lead with two minutes remaining.

Tamin Lipsey then took control to get the Cyclones back in the game with a pair of free throws and a driving layup with 10 seconds left to tie the game at 68.

But Lipsey’s efforts were not enough.

In hopes of not committing a foul, Iowa State’s prevent defense was too soft as they allowed Baylor’s Jayden Nunn to drive inside and connect on a layup, which he was fouled on, to put the Bears up by two.

Those final two seconds were a rollercoaster of emotions for Cyclone fans.

Nunn missed his free throw, which was rebounded by Tre King and the clock hit zero. But after an official review, it was ruled that the clock started early and Iowa State was allowed to inbound the ball with 1.2 seconds left.

Inbound to King, who tossed it to Milan Momcilovic who launched it from near half court, and banked in what would’ve been a buzzer-beater win for the Cyclones.

But after another review, it was clear that Momcilovic was still in his shooting motion with the ball and his hands, and the clock at zero.

Iowa State’s prayer was tenths of a second away from being answered.

Failed charity stripe opportunity

Iowa State was given a multitude of chances from the free throw line, 32 to be exact, to not have to rely on a last-second shot to win the game. But an issue that has been present in multiple games for the Cyclones ended up being a reason why they fell to the Bears.

Of its 32 chances at the charity stripe, Iowa State connected on just 19 of them. When looking at the chances in the second half, the Cyclones went 14-for-26 from the line, six of those misses coming from Robert Jones.

Although Iowa State’s defensive lapse and cold first-half shooting were key reasons for its loss to the Bears, the inconsistent shooting from the line did not help its case during its attempt to finish a late comeback.

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