Iowa State basketball: What went wrong against South Carolina?


Iowa State basketball fell to South Carolina 64-60 at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York. Poor shooting, turnovers, and never being able to break through in a game that was there from start to finish leads to frustration for both the team and the fans as they are left picking up the pieces. What happened on Saturday, and what needs to be fixed before conference play begins in a few short days?

The win was dangling on a line for Iowa State all game long. It was a terrible start with South Carolina not missing many shots and controlling the boards, but they had a lot of foul trouble (28 PFs committed) and turned the ball over 20 times.

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It was the Cyclones that played just a little bit worse. The Gamecocks defense pressured ISU all night long and, similar to the loss to Maryland, they were never able to get in their groove offensively. Iowa State finished shooting 35.1 percent from the field and the ball hardly wanted to fall into the basket all night long.

Other factors that contributed in the loss was going just 1-of-18 from long range. Naz Long hit the only 3-pointer and it finally fell through over 39 minutes into the contest. The Cyclones also made just 19-of-33 free throws, had 13 turnovers, and made just eight assists on 20 field goals made. It was nothing close to the team that’s usually on display. This wasn’t “Hoiball.”

Jameel McKay off the bench was the only highlight of the first half. Iowa State found him constantly open inside, and he ended up with 15 points — tying Dustin Hogue with a game high. South Carolina eventually took that away in the second half.

Jan 3, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Iowa State Cyclones forward Jameel McKay (1) reacts in the second half against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Barclays Center. South Carolina defeated Iowa State 64-60. Mandatory Credit: Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

Against Maryland, it never felt that Iowa State was going to rebound and win that game. The loss was more acceptable to take and we knew the Terrapins size played a major role. Now after seeing the problems at Barclay’s, it’s more than that. The team struggles when somebody gets physical with them and slows the game down.

What this Iowa State team needs to learn — and quickly — is that they aren’t going to lob the ball down the court on every team. Not everyone is Viterbo or Mississippi Valley State. Teams that have the talent to slow the pace down and shorten the game can succeed against the Cyclones, especially if that same bad effort continues.

The team’s two best offensive contributors, Georges Niang and Bryce Dejean-Jones, felt absent all night long. They finished just 4-of 18 combined from the field (0-for-7 from downtown) — BDJ had just three points and attempted five shots.

Also, the slow starts have to stop. Similar to the football team, there’s now been multiple games where Iowa State digs themselves into a hole. Oakland, Maryland, Lamar, Southern, now South Carolina — those were some of the games that the Cyclones didn’t start off on the right foot.

Halftime adjustments and early second-half surges have propelled this team to success. Fred Hoiberg has been able to get through to this team in multiple instances, but over a five minute scoring drought to open up the second half doomed the Cyclones against the Terrapins and again when they fell to the Gamecocks.

That effort against South Carolina shows that they need to handle adversity better.

It’s going to be a quick turnaround for Iowa State as Big 12 play starts up in less than 60 hours. The team has to travel back home from New York and adjust.

Forget about being a top 10 team and the best in the Big 12. That effort against South Carolina shows that they need to handle adversity better.

Luckily, the conference slate can allow them to turn the page quickly. The Big 12 opener is against Oklahoma State at Hilton Coliseum on Tuesday night. Then they have to go to West Virginia where they lost 102-77 a season ago.

We’ll quickly see if Iowa State learned a week from now.

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