Takeaways: Iowa State can’t handle the zone defense


Tyrese Haliburton jumps for a layup against Iowa on December 12th.

Zane Douglas

The Cyclones lost their first home game of the season on Thursday to Iowa 84-68. The Hawkeyes dominated the Cyclones thanks to an early run and it seemed like Iowa had an answer for every comeback attempt from Iowa State.

The second half was pretty even, but it was too late after Iowa jumped out to the huge lead right away.

Zone struggles

Early in the first quarter, after Iowa State was down big, the Cyclones tried something new by putting guard Tre Jackson and forward George Conditt in for the two forwards — Michael Jacobson and Solomon Young. The small-ball lineup triggered Iowa coach Fran McCaffrey to switch his defense to a zone.

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

The zone was immediately effective. With four guards, Iowa State had no one getting into the high post to break up the zone and the defense swallowed up any opportunity from the red-hot Conditt down low. This left one thing to break up the zone — perimeter shooting.

Iowa State has been atrocious in this area to this point in the season and that didn’t change on Thursday. The Cyclones went 6-26 from distance — good for 23.1 percent — and many of the shots were forced.

Despite the bad offense, coach Steve Prohm wasn’t discouraged by how his team played the zone.

“We knew we were gonna see a lot of zone night, it’s all we did the last three days,” Prohm said. “We tried to get Tyrese in the middle in the second half and late in the first half to try to help because he’s our best decision maker and that helped for awhile.”

The Cyclones were able to turn some high post action into points at the end of the first half and throughout the second half, but the defense began to falter with two Iowa State big men unable to guard the rim before Iowa could score in transition.

Bohannon channels Niang

During the closing minutes of the win after Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon buried a couple free throws, the senior blew a kiss to the crowd which was a callback to when Georges Niang did it to the Hawkeye crowd earlier in the rivalry.

Bohannon upped the ante though with what he did after the game.

When the game finished, Bohannon took his shoes off, signed them and left them by the Iowa State bench. The writing on the shoes had his signature and a note that read “To ISU: Thanks for memz.”

Despite a game where Bohannon played pretty poorly, the Hawkeyes won big which gave the senior the confidence to trash talk the crowd as he left.

Terrence Lewis provides spark

With ten minutes left in the game, Iowa State trailed bay 22 points, so the Cyclones turned to someone they hadn’t used in meaning fun minutes all season — Terrence Lewis.

Whether this was because the game was effectively lost or because Prohm had nothing else working is a mystery, but either way, it worked.

Lewis immediately hit a three pointer on his first attempt and would follow that up by two solid finishes on a couple nice drives to the lane.

The junior has seen less and less playing time since coming to the Cyclones as a top 100 recruit according to ESPN, but that could change after he turned in some solid final minutes for Iowa State.

Lewis also tallied an assist, rebound and block and was the only Cyclone with a positive plus/minus stat.