Three takeaways from Iowa State’s loss to Milwaukee

Iowa State junior Nick Weiler-Babb lays the ball in late in the game against Milwaukee. Weiler-Babb scored 11 points in the loss for the Cyclones.

Aaron Marner

Fans, players and coaches alike were not pleased with Iowa State’s performance against Milwaukee on Saturday, which resulted in a 74-56 loss. It was Iowa State’s first loss in a home opener since 1997.

Here are three takeaways from the game.

Cyclones can’t find a go-to scorer

Iowa State knew it would struggle in its half-court offense this season.

When the Cyclones needed a bucket last year, coach Steve Prohm could count on seniors Naz Mitrou-Long, Monte Morris, Matt Thomas or Deonte Burton to create something.

With all four of them gone, there isn’t an established go-to scorer on this year’s team. The Cyclones shot just 38.1 percent from the floor in the loss to Milwaukee and hit just 3-of-15 three-point attempts (20 percent).

To counter the offensive struggles, Prohm said, Iowa State needs to step it up in other areas.

“We need to play with a chip on our shoulder,” Prohm said. “A nastiness to prove people wrong and a toughness that we have so much resiliency and character about us that we’re going to fight through this. That’s what we need to be about.”

Turnovers, turnovers and more turnovers

Iowa State also knew it didn’t have an established point guard entering this season. Through two regular season games, it’s pretty clear how much this team misses Monte Morris.

Collectively, the Cyclones compiled just five assists against Milwaukee. Last year, Morris averaged 6.2 per game by himself.

Not only that, but Iowa State had 18 turnovers. Having a positive assist-to-turnover ratio is a good sign; having 13 more turnovers than assists, however, makes it nearly impossible to win.

Nick Weiler-Babb and Donovan Jackson were the two primary point guards for Iowa State against the Panthers. They combined for zero assists and nine turnovers.

“As a team we set a goal for 10 or less turnovers,” said redshirt junior forward Zoran Talley Jr. “Tonight we came out with 18. We’ve got to take care of the ball.”

Cyclones looking to get to the free throw line

One of the few positives for Iowa State was its ability to get to the free throw line and actually convert when it got there.

Iowa State got to the line frequently against Emporia State in the exhibition, but hit just 61 percent of its free throws. Against Missouri, Iowa State was just 5-for-11 at the line.

Monday night, the Cyclones attempted 28 free throws and connected on 21 of them (75 percent). Talley Jr. hit 4-of-6, Lindell Wigginton hit 6-of-8, and Jeff Beverly hit a perfect 7-for-7.

Without a proven go-to scorer and a lack of three-point shooters, Iowa State will need to rely on its ability to get to the line. When they get to the charity stripe, the Cyclones will then have to make a high percentage.

Monday’s game was a step in the right direction in that aspect, but there is still a long way to go for this team.

“You’ve just got to get better,” Prohm said. “We’re two games into the season. We have a lot to work on, we’ve got a lot to get better.”