Iowa’s strong first half too much for Cyclones to overcome


Tyrese Haliburton surveys the court before tipoff against Iowa on Dec. 12. Iowa State lost 84-68.

Matt Belinson

In Iowa’s 84-68 victory over Iowa State Thursday night, the Cyclones found themselves in a hole from the very beginning and could never recover.

After the game was tied at 2-2, the Hawkeyes never looked back and ran away with their first victory over the Cyclones in Hilton Coliseum since 2001.

Head coach Steve Prohm said it himself — the game was over from the very beginning.

“We lost the game in the first five minutes 16-4; I should’ve called timeout 8-2,” Prohm said. 

The concerns began right away for Prohm when Iowa State gave up an offensive rebound, didn’t switch to guard a ball screen and gave up a transition three in consecutive sequences.

The Cyclones opened the first half 4-13 from the floor before the second media timeout was called with 11:26 remaining.

Prohm said the 16-point loss falls on him, as he took the blame for not preparing the Cyclones enough to walk away with a win.

“I didn’t have our guys ready, I’ll own it, we got embarrassed and we gotta live with it,” Prohm said.

After the 17:29 mark in the first half when the Hawkeyes held a 11-4 lead, Iowa State only trailed by single digits for less than a minute the rest of the way.

The brief moment of hope for the Cyclones came with 16:50 left in the second half after Prentiss Nixon hit a three pointer to cut it to nine. Solomon Young finished an and-one to make it a seven-point Hawkeye lead with 16:26 left in the second half.

Twenty-five seconds later, Connor McCaffery hit a three-pointer and Iowa retook control of its double-digit lead once again.

Iowa’s zone defense was the source of the problems from the get-go, forcing Iowa State to take multiple bad shots from deep — an area Iowa State has struggled in all season.

The Cyclones shot 2-13 from three in the first half. 

Prohm said even though the Cyclones knew they would see a lot of zone and had been watching the Hawkeyes for the last three days, nothing was clicking on offense. 

Prohm said he saw the Cyclones become stagnant and stand still with the ball in their hands time and time again. Prohm said the Cyclones didn’t attack the post or high post at all and even tried to get Haliburton in the middle of the post to generate any success, but it wasn’t enough.

No Cyclone had more than Haliburton’s eight points in the first half, with Nixon and Michael Jacobson collecting five points respectively.

Haliburton said Iowa State didn’t play hard enough to win and the Hawkeyes took advantage.

Haliburton led the team with his 22 points — one of two Cyclones with double digit points.

“They wanted it more than us, they played harder than us and that was the biggest difference throughout the whole game.” Haliburton said.

Young was the only other Cyclone with double digit points, as the junior big-man tallied 10 points on the night.

Young agreed with Haliburton and said the Cyclones were not ready to go Thursday night. Even though Iowa State knew what it would see in the Hawkeyes, the team never found itself and failed to execute a counter-attack.

“We weren’t locked in mentally and it showed tonight,” Young said. “We practiced it, we just didn’t execute. It happened, you all saw it.”

Prohm saw the Hawkeyes crowd the lane and rim, but didn’t see the Cyclones attack the basket — the type of offense Prohm said Iowa State finds its most efficient scoring.

With the lanes clogged and the ball sticking, Iowa State settled for bad looks from three and contested floaters.

“The zone offense was horrid in the first half,” Prohm said. “It was the first game I went into halftime and said ‘we’ve been missing a lot of bad looks tonight,'” Prohm said.

The lack of attack toward the rim showed in not just the first half boxscore, but the game as a whole.

Iowa State went to the free-throw line twice in the first half, with George Conditt IV missing both of his two attempts.

It was the first time in last three matchups between the Hawkeyes and Iowa State that Iowa State went to the free-throw line less than four times in the first half.

“We got our butts kicked,” Prohm said. “They had another level in them tonight.”