Cyclones left starving for offense in 70-61 loss to Kansas


Jacob Rice/Iowa State Daily

Gabe Kalscheur attempts a lay-up against the Kansas Jayhawks in Iowa State’s 70-61 loss in Hilton Coliseum on Feb. 1, 2022.

James Powell

AMES- Aggression.

It’s a buzzword frequently used by others to describe No. 20 Iowa State, as well as a calling card for T.J. Otzelberger since he took over as head coach.

Tuesday against Kansas, it was nowhere to be found.

Iowa State welcomed the No. 10-ranked Jayhawks to town, who were without the league’s leading scorer, Ochai Agbaji, due to COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols. Despite being down its offensive superstar, Kansas was the aggressor on offense and came out of Ames with a 70-61 win.

The Cyclones were “starving” for a win against the current Big 12 leader — Aljaz Kunc said as much in the days leading up to the game. Instead, the Cyclones were left hungry and longing for any sort of offensive rhythm through most of the night.

Iowa State was held to 41 percent shooting and made just five of its 22 three-point attempts. It was a performance from the field that has come to be expected from this team, as they’ve put themselves at a disadvantage in a majority of their contests with their lack of offensive firepower.

Izaiah Brockington, one of the lone consistencies on offense for the Cyclones, shot 28 times and made just 11 of them. At times this season, he has been denied the ball entirely as opposing defenses have worked to shut him down. Tonight, however, was a different story.

Brockington was getting open looks, and for the most part, he was able to have his way in terms of creating opportunities for himself. The only problem was making those shots consistently enough to keep his team in it.

The games in which Brockington has been a liability, as opposed to a luxury, on offense have been few and far between. His coach understands as much and says it’s more than just having to make up for lost offense.

“It’s a rare game for him,” Otzelberger said about his star player’s offense. “I don’t think we’ve seen one where he’s had that type of a struggle.”

“The more production we can get from other places, certainly, the better, guys knocking down shots, but it’s more than that,” Otzelberger added regarding the rest of the team. “Physicality, getting to the offensive boards, we didn’t keep plays alive on the glass… didn’t get to the foul line, there’s all those physical things that we’ve got to execute better.”

It could almost be guaranteed that Otzelberger and his team would harp on their lack of aggression in almost all of their six Big 12 losses. It’s something he worked to build up in the team’s daily habits, and when it dissipates at such an extreme level, the offense looks all but lost.

Something that usually results from consistent aggression is forcing turnovers. That box was certainly checked for Iowa State, as the team turned Kansas over 16 times in the first half and 22 times in the game. It’s been a staple of the Cyclones’ game, but this time it didn’t result in enough offense to keep them in it.

They scored 16 points off 22 turnovers, while the Jayhawks managed 15 points off just 13 Cyclone turnovers. It’s one of the most important statistics for Iowa State, and Otzelberger believes it played a part in their dormant offense.

“When we string together stops, that’s usually when we’re at our best, playing downhill and in transition,” Otzelberger said. “They made big shots, but part of it to me is that we weren’t as aggressive guarding as we need to be.”

The only offensive statistic that went the Cyclones’ way was bench points, a margin they won 14-10. That was almost entirely due to Tre Jackson, who made four of six threes and could be considered the lone bright spot for Iowa State on the offensive side of things.

As a whole, it was another performance on offense that shines a light on a year-long issue for Iowa State, as their offense now ranks 123rd in offensive efficiency, according to

The Cyclones move to 3-6 in Big 12 play and travel to Austin on Saturday for a road game against the Texas Longhorns.