Three Takeaways: Post production growing, Iowa State controls tempo, a second half team

Iowa State junior Nick Weiler-Babb takes a jump shot in the first half against UNI at the Hy-Vee Classic in Wells Fargo Arena.

Brian Mozey

DES MOINES – Iowa State continued its winning streak with a 76-65 win against Northern Iowa on Dec. 16 in the Hy-Vee Classic at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

This win was one of the biggest wins for the Cyclones on their non-conference schedule this season. Here’s a few takeaways from the win and what to look forward to in the future.

Strong post production

Early on in the season, coach Steve Prohm depended on his three key guards (Lindell Wigginton, Donovan Jackson and Nick Weiler-Babb) to score the majority of points during a game. Now, he doesn’t have to depend because Iowa State’s post play has continued to grow over the past few games.

Tonight, Iowa State’s four post players (Solomon Young, Jeff Beverly, Cameron Lard and Hans Brase) combined for 31 of the 76 points, 40.7 percent of the total points. They even found themselves shooting 3-pointers against Northern Iowa.

Young went 1-for-2 from the 3-point line, while Brase went 1-for-4 and Beverly went 2-for-2. This production from behind the arc is crucial to Iowa State’s success this season because the team can’t just depend on the guards to score outside the paint.

This post production started coming to life once Lard showed his dominance in the post and Brase came back from his ACL injury.

Not only did these four players contribute on the points side, but they also helped in the rebound category too. All of them combined for 19 of the 42 rebounds.

The Iowa State players are starting to learn each other’s roles on the team and that has allowed the post production to grow substantially over the past couple of games.

“The post players have stepped up in their production on the court,” Weiler-Babb said. “It’s nice to see this team have threats in all five positions with multiple strengths from each player.”

Iowa State handled the tempo

Coming into the game against Northern Iowa, the Panthers were ranked 350th out of 351 teams in Division I basketball regarding tempo of the game. Northern Iowa plays a slow game, which means it allows itself to run the shot clock down.

The tempo was one of the biggest discussions coming into the game and Iowa State made sure to establish its tempo early. The first couple of minutes, the Cyclones pushed the ball down the floor and found a couple of baskets to lead 5-0 early.

After that lead, Iowa State pushed too hard to dominant the tempo and it resulted in a lot of missed shots and the lead being pulled away by Northern Iowa.

Once the Cyclones came back to the court after halftime, they not only established their tempo again, but controlled that tempo the majority of the second half. Northern Iowa couldn’t stop Iowa State when it came to fast break points and finding the open player on every possession in the second half.

“This was a good win for these guys,” Prohm said. “This was a challenge for these guys. They needed to step up in this environment, neutral floor, and beat a good team.

[We wanted them to] not get frustrated about the way they’re defending us, continue to get ball movement. The one thing we did was put pressure on the rim and I thought that was a big key.”

Now, Iowa State will need to take what it learned from this game and apply it to the game against Maryland Eastern Shore on Dec. 20 because the Hawks are the 351st team in average possession length. They are slower than Northern Iowa.

Second half team

During this eight-game winning streak, Iowa State has been a dominant team in the second half. It’s shown not only in the win against Northern Iowa, but in the past number of games.

The Cyclones keep the game close during the first half and then become an entirely new team in the second half.

Iowa State is averaging 46.5 points per second half during these last eight games compared to a 36.1-point average in the first half. The Cyclones have scored 40 second half points or more in seven of the eight games during their winning streak. They’ve also reached over 50 points twice.

In the win against the Panthers, Iowa State shot 32.4 percent from the field in the first half. The second half was completely different as it shot 58.3 percent. It’s been a consistent theme for Iowa State to hit another gear in the second half to finish the game strong and dominant.

Prohm said he doesn’t believe in a second half team philosophy, but he does realize the team is playing better in the second half compared to the first. Now, the focus is on making the team better over the entire course of a game.

“We have been better in the second half and I don’t know why that is,” Prohm said. “I’d love to be a first half and second half team.”