Iowa State upsets No. 16 Seton Hall behind a spark from George Conditt

Then-freshman George Conditt IV celebrates after a teammate made a 3-point shot against Eastern Illinois on Dec. 21, 2018.

Zane Douglas

With four points in the first eight minutes, the Cyclones looked lost on offense on Sunday. But when they needed a spark, George Conditt IV delivered.

Conditt finished the first half with 10 points, five rebounds and two blocks in 10 minutes of play in the 76-66 upset win. The sophomore reached double-figures in points for the fifth time already this season.

“We told coach Prohm in the beginning of the year man, the way this team is gonna win is all on the defensive end,” Conditt said. “The greatest team is gonna be good on the defensive end.”

A 1-10 start from three and a 31.4 percent first half shooting percentage for the Cyclones made Conditt’s impact felt even more. Conditt converted on an efficient 4-for-6 in the half while also burying both free throws he attempted.

The rest of the Cyclone team had a forgettable first half. Iowa State sans Conditt converted on seven of its 29 shots and had only 18 points.

Conditt provided much needed relief for the Cyclones in the second half as they toppled the No. 16 Seton Hall in their second meeting of the season. Size was an important factor in their first meeting when Seton Hall dominated on the boards to a tune of a 40 to 29 advantage.

“I just think [George] brings tremendous energy to the game,” said guard Prentiss Nixon. “He’s a game-changer for sure.”

Early in the first half, Seton Hall’s 6-foot 11-inch forward Sandro Mamukelashvili landed hard on a block attempt which caused him to miss the remainder of the game with a wrist injury.

With one of its longest players out, Seton Hall was left without a ton of depth down low, which allowed Iowa State to experiment more with small-ball lineups.

Forward Michael Jacobson saw some playing time as the lone big man in these sets, but Conditt did as well and the Cyclones offense and defense were opened up because of it.

In the second half, Conditt was efficient with less volume. The forward added seven more points on 1-for-2 shooting while also tallying three more blocks and another rebound to give him five and six respectively.

“Best shot blocker in the country,” said guard Tyrese Halliburton. “You feel really good when you got a guy like that behind you.”

Haliburton and Conditt played especially well together in the game. The pair found success running the pick-and-roll and were able to create opportunities for Iowa State.

For the game, the Cyclones shot 38.3 percent from the floor and 21.1 percent from beyond the arc.

The low shooting percentage led to coach Steve Prohm having to try some new things — the four guard lineup is an example — which in turn opened up the offense to run through interior players. Iowa State used Seton Hall’s size against it as the Cyclones exploited the lack of lateral quickness down low.

Conditt also opened up a part of his game that hadn’t been seen too much. He drew fouls — especially in the second half. That gave him eight free throws on the day — seven of which he converted.

The game highlighted a leap forward that Conditt has taken this season. Last season, Conditt was sometimes carried by his shot blocking ability, but this season, he has improved in that area while also adding scoring and rebounding.

“He’s just tapping the surface on how good he can be,” Prohm said. “Really understands what we need from him. Really bought in his role.”

Halliburton distributed and scored, Nixon stifled Myles Powell, but it was a first half run by George Conditt that gave Iowa State the spark it needed to pull off an upset at home.