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How the Game was Lost: Texas

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Examining the scoring drought to end the first half that sent the Cyclones reeling

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Texas Stephen Spillman-USA TODAY Sports

Through the first 10 minutes of Saturday’s 69-86 loss, Iowa State jumped out to a 20-14 lead over the Texas Longhorns. The offense looked fine, the defense was okay, and by no stretch of the imagination did I think the Cyclones would end up getting annihilated by the 15-13 Longhorns.

Boy was I wrong.

Iowa State proceeded to not score a field goal during the next 8 minutes of play, and Texas never looked back. In this week’s version of How the Game was Lost I take a look at the scoring drought that sent the Cyclones limping home, and left fans everywhere frustrated.

The Drought

After Lindell Wigginton’s floater in the lane with 9:31 remaining in the first half, Iowa State looked to pull away from Texas and build on their 20-14 lead. What follows is a possession-by-possession look at what exactly went wrong for the Cyclones.

Dylan Osetkowski (say that 5 times fast) is fouled on the other end of the floor and Iowa State brings the ball up with a 4 point lead. The Cyclones run their atypical offense, curling Shayok around a screen and getting dribble penetration. Wigginton gets into the lane and double dribbles. As far as off-ball movement and action goes, Iowa State got a paint touch, but just couldn’t finish the play.

Eli Mitrou-Long turns the ball over on the other end and Cyclones run a series of hand-offs before Zoran Talley attempts a a tough mid-range one-handed jumper. Talley then closes out hard on an Osetkowski 3 from the corner, and on the ensuing possession barrels into Jase Febres who draws a charge.

After the media timeout, Wigginton falls asleep on defense and gives Febres an open corner three. Notice anything wrong with the picture below? Lindell has his eyes locked on the ball handler and is set up to step-in and help if necessary. The problem here is that he’s helping one pass away from the ball, and leaving a 39% 3-point shooter open. Coleman makes the easy pass and Texas cuts the Iowa State lead to 1.

Decent side to side ball movement from the Cyclones coming back the other way, but THT takes an atrocious step back 3 that clanks off the rim. A foul on Texas keeps the ball with the Clones, and THT misses a contested layup. At this point, Horton Tucker had 2 points on 1-8 shooting. The freshman struggled all game to find good looks, and often forced unnecessary shots early in the shot clock.

Texas comes down and runs a spread pick & roll with Raney and Hayes, and Jacobson does a good job contesting just enough for Hayes to miss a hook shot in the lane. Wigginton pushes the ball up the floor and hands to Halliburton, who finds Jacobson for possibly the easiest jumper he’s had all year... And misses.

Look at Wigginton’s defensive stance compared to Halliburton’s towards the top left of the picture below. Tyrese has his knees bent, arms slightly out, ready to make a play on the ball. Lindell is standing straight up, his knees practically locked, and his arms at his sides. He’s late to contest, and Febres cans another corner 3.

After Horton Tucker draws a foul and hits 2 free throws, he fouls Coleman on the other end, who hits 1. Again, THT barrels into the lane on the ensuing possession, and is bailed out on a foul call. He hits 1 free throw and the game is tied at 23. Texas proceeds to run an absolutely beautiful pick & roll with Hayes diving to the rim. Knowing Iowa State would key on the lob, Coleman reads the double and makes the easy pass to Mitrou-Long (shooting 30% behind the arc), who buries an open 3.

The Cyclones don’t run anything at all on the next possession, and THT steps on the baseline. Elijah Mitrou-Long then makes this sweet pass on the other end:

Shayok forces a pass to Jacobson for another turnover, Texas pushes, and Mike doesn’t get back in time to prevent his man from getting an easy dunk. Timeout Steve Prohm.

Halliburton misses a deep 3 after the break, and Hayes misses a put back after a missed 3 from Febres. Again, Iowa State comes down and attempts a pick & roll with THT and Conditt, but there is ZERO off-ball movement. Shayok drives into a crowd and turns it over. Time for speculation. Either Prohm didn’t call for a play to be run, or he did, and the team didn’t listen. Each prospect is equally frightening for different reasons. The offense was so abysmal during this stretch that trying literally anything different would’ve been worth a try. Prohm is an excellent coach, and can have the offense humming at times, but his in-game adjustments absolutely need work.

Texas runs a pick & roll at the top of the key and THT gets sucked into the lane, leaving Febres open for yet another corner 3. Iowa State is now down 10. Perfect time to slow it down and run something different right?

Wrong.

Shayok dribbles baseline, forcing a contested mid-range jumper, and half of Ames finishes their beer. Texas is now going on a 10-0 run starting a little under 3 minutes ago. THT bumps Ramey on the other end, and he stretches the Texas lead to 12. At this point, the announcer exclaims that Iowa State has had exactly 1 assist in 18 and a half minutes of play.

The next possession Babb lands awkwardly on his knee, Conditt gets the rebound and finishes, and the drought ends with 1:07 to go in the first half.

Games Notes

  • Obviously not having Cam Lard hurt this team. Is he enough to make up a 20 point difference? Maybe, maybe not. I thought Conditt (11 pts, 4 rbs, 5-7 fgs) played well enough in his absence to negate any of those sentiments, but you never know. Not to mention Texas was missing Kerwin Roach.
  • Tyrese Halliburton is averaging just under 4.5 points per game and 2.9 assists in the month of February. His hesitation to shoot the basketball and hunt for his own shot is a detriment to the team. The team hums nicely along when Tyrese gets into the paint and kicks to open shooters but as of late, he has been a complete non-factor.
  • Jase Febres, the Texas sharpshooter, scored 15 and 23 points the previous 2 games, and should’ve been the focal point of the Texas offense after controlling Jaxson Hayes’ paint touches. The Sophomore guard torched Iowa State for 26 points on 9-11 shooting and an incredible 8-10 from three point land. Especially with Kerwin Roach out, this seemed like an obvious key to the game, and the Clones absolutely failed.
  • Iowa State’s leading rebounder was 6’2” Lindell Wigginton, who finished with 6 total boards.
  • Texas made 15 threes on 60% shooting from behind the arc.
  • It’s now March and I’m officially worried this team peaked too early. The only thing that matters in college basketball is WHEN are you playing your best basketball. Ask yourself if this Iowa State team is playing better or worse than a month ago. The idea of getting ready for the tournament is now gone. This team has 2 more games to get back on track before the gauntlet truly begins, and I am officially worried.