Three takeaways: Cyclone offense wakes up in win over Appalachian State

Senior Donovan Jackson shooting the ball to score a point for the Cyclones during their game against the Emporia State Hornets Nov. 5.

Aaron Marner

Iowa State’s offense finally woke up.

The last few years, Iowa State has been led by its offense. But with over 80 percent of its scoring from last season gone, the Cyclone offense has suffered in its first two games of the 2017-18 season.

In fact, the Cyclones entered Thursday’s contest averaging just 57.5 points per game.

In the first game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the offense finally showed the spark it had last season in a 104-98 win against Appalachian State.

Here are three takeaways from the game.

Shooting improves

The Cyclones knocked down deep 3-pointers. They finished at the rim. They got to the line and converted when they got there.

It was an all-around strong offensive performance, led mostly by the guards. A huge part of it was the production of veteran guards Donovan Jackson and Nick Weiler-Babb.

Weiler-Babb and Jackson put up 23 and 26 points, respectively. But it wasn’t just the scoring that made the difference.

But the story of the game was Iowa State’s backcourt, which had a huge performance as a whole. The three starting guards — Weiler-Babb, Jackson and freshman Lindell Wigginton — combined for 66 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists, all while shooting 19-for-33 (58 percent) from the floor. All three recorded career-highs in points.

Cameron Lard makes debut

Additionally, redshirt freshman Cameron Lard made his Iowa State debut against Appalachian State and didn’t disappoint.

In the first half, the 6-foot-9 forward put up six points, four rebounds and two blocks in only eight minutes.

He finished the game with 12 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in 20 minutes. His presence at the rim, which coach Steve Prohm had previously compared to former Cyclone Jameel McKay, was a welcome change for an Iowa State team that hadn’t received much production from the post.

Lard also showed the ability to make an impact as a scorer. He hit 4-of-6 field goal attempts, mostly around the rim, and also hit 4-of-6 free throws.

With his 12 points and 11 rebounds, Lard became the first Cyclone freshman to debut with a double-double since Georges Niang in 2012.

Defense still has work to do

Iowa State’s defense had given up 74 points per game this season.

That’s not terrible, but it’s far from great. That number is only going to look worse tomorrow.

The 98 points scored by Appalachian State is a bit deceiving since both teams scored a lot of points on extra possessions at the end of the game when the Mountaineers were fouling.

However, the Cyclones still forced just eight turnovers, gave up 15 second-chance points and couldn’t get stops consistently. The Mountaineers hit 15-of-40 3-point attempts, good for 37.5 percent. Additionally, the Cyclones allowed Appalachian State to get to the free throw line 40 times, where it hit 29 (72.5 percent).

If Iowa State is to continue winning at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, the defense will have to improve.