When commentators make statements about a team’s defense such as, “How many easy shots will Red Raiders have tonight,” and, “Not shocked he missed that with how high the degree of difficulty is was” about your offense, odds are you aren’t going to be victorious. The Cyclones beat all odds, however, winning the first game of the Big 12 conference season over the Texas Tech Red Raiders, 63-56.
The Red Raiders spent the first few minutes of the contest making a few easy and open shots, but Monte Morris took matters into his own hands, making phenomenal plays under the hoop to bring Iowa State back into the game.
But the Cyclones scored as many field goals (5) as the Red Raiders had offensive rebounds, and just 10 minutes in the game, Iowa State was trailing Texas Tech 21-12.
Enter Solomon Young, the young freshman who seemed to, for the first time, get the Iowa State offense to actually move the ball instead of working iso which appeared to be the game plan early in the game. Knocking down 5 straight free throws and a nice move by Monte, the Cyclones were able to nearly double the points they had the first 15 minutes in a two-minute span.
Unfortunately, Texas Tech senior and Arkansas State transfer Anthony Livingston wouldn’t let the Cyclones get too close. His 13 points, 9 of which coming from three-point range, helped the Red Raiders to a 35-25 lead at half.
The two biggest stories of the first half were the Cyclone offense, or lack thereof, and losing the rebound battle 24-10. The offense shot just 32% from the field on just 4 assists while the defense appeared to stand still and expect the ball to come to them every time Texas Tech shot, as they gave up 8 offensive boards.
In the early minutes of the second half, Iowa State’s offense did what it could to help scratch and claw its way back into the game, with Darrell Bowie drilling a three and Deonte Burton making a nice move to the hoop. But every time the crowd was preparing to explode, the defense allowed the Red Raiders to answer back.
It wasn’t until Monte Morris hit a three and back-to-back offensive rebounds led to a Nick Weiler-Babb layup when the Cyclones were able to make it a 7-point game. The crowd went insane and it looked like momentum was swinging Iowa State’s way when Texas Tech’s Keenan Evans lobbed one up to a sky-high Zach Smith for an easy alley oop.
Naz Mitrou-Long came out of the timeout on fire, running right through the Red Raider defense for a layup and, seconds later, a Nick Weiler-Babb steal and kick to Morris who played a round of hot potato with Jackson before drilling a three. A few possessions later Morris found Mitrou-Long for a layup and Morris hit a runner the following possession to help an 18-4 Cyclone run to tie the game. The next possession, former boxer Mitrou-Long had a nice side-step to fake a defender and drill a three to give the Cyclones their first lead at 55-52. He gave the knockout punch a few minutes later, hitting a layup off a fast break and then 2 free throws seconds later to give the Cyclones a 59-52.
Zach Smith was able to end the 25-4 run and a near 8-minute scoring drought for the Red Raiders with a nice putback lay-in while Aaron Ross hit two free throws the next possession to make it a 59-56 game with 50 seconds remaining.
After running 25 seconds off the clock, Texas Tech fouled Matt Thomas, who hit both free throws to give the Cyclones a 5-point lead. After a missed three by the Red Raiders, the Cyclones were able to finish the game 63-56, ending the game on a 29-8 run.
Naz Mitrou-Long led all Cyclones with 19 points, all but two coming in the second half. The Cyclones were able to improve their issues on the boards as well, giving up just a +1 rebound advantage to the Red Raiders in the second half.
Cyclones still have a pulse
Iowa State was able to cap off an ugly December with an exciting victory. Instead of laying flat, the Cyclones came up huge in the second half, not allowing Livingston to score at all the entire second half
Move the damn ball!
The iso offense is understandable in late-game situation, but the 10-minute stretches of nothing but iso needs to stop. In a half court offense, a team can’t limit itself to a minimum of 2 passes before throwing up a shot with a hand in your face.
After shooting 2-11 and putting up just 6 points, Burton virtually disappeared in the second half and spent most of the time sitting on the bench. In the last 4 games, Burton is shooting just 11-38 (28%) including 0-7 from deep and appears to be forcing everything. Burton is vital to this team’s success, but until he lets the game come to him, he will be a liability on the court.
Iowa State heads to Waco to take on the #4 Baylor Bears Wednesday at 7 p.m. on ESPNews.