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How the Game was Won: Oklahoma

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The Cyclones get back on track with an 81-68 win over the Sooners

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma at Iowa State Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Finally.

Iowa State put together a complete game en route to an 81-68 thrashing of Oklahoma on Saturday night in which the offense clicked, the defense forced turnovers, and the fan base collectively let out a sigh of relief.

Iowa State’s offense man-handled the Sooners’ shoddy defense all night. The Cyclones did an excellent job of getting out in transition, scoring 15 points on the break. Oklahoma’s failure to get back and protect the rim allowed Tyrese Halliburton and Iowa State guards to feast simply by pushing the ball whenever they were able to.

Needless to say, getting out in transition is an important part of the Iowa State offense. In fact, Iowa State is averaging just over 74 possessions per game, good for tops in the Big 12 (for context, Houston Baptist leads the country with 82/game). Similarly, Iowa State’s ability to force turnovers and get out and run are distinctly linked. The Cyclones scored 32 points off Oklahoma turnovers. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if the Clones can jump the passing lanes and try to turn most games into a track meet, they should have more success going forward, especially if Coach Prohm continues to try more 4 guard lineups.

All that said, Iowa State simply generated a lot of really good looks and knocked down open 3’s. The Cyclones knocked down twelve 3’s, and a lot of those looks were wide open corner 3’s. Notice how on the below the ball zips across the court and eventually finds the open man. Conditt does a nice job of sealing Brady Manek, and Tre Jackson has all day to put up an easy jumper.

Here, Rasir Bolton does a great job slashing to the lane with his head up and finds Jackson for another open look. Time and time again we’ve seen Bolton barrel into defenders and put up very difficult, contested shots against much larger players. Jackson does an excellent job drifting to the baseline to give Rasir an easy option to dish to the corner. Conditt seals again, and Tre Jackson knocks down another wide open look.

Again, Iowa State has done a good job all year of generating good looks, but have really struggled to capitalize to actively knock down those attempts. Saturday night we saw exactly what can happen when they are producing from behind the arc. By the way, Oklahoma’s 3 point defense is good for 179th in the country. What do you think the point of emphasis was leading up to this game?

Oh, and sometimes, it’s just your night.

Compare Saturday’s shot chart with the dumpster fire from the Kansas game and the story tells itself.

Iowa State vs. Oklahoma Shot Chart
Iowa State vs. Kansas Shot Chart

Notice the amount of corner 3’s and layups/dunks. One of those pictures indicates an offense which knocked down high percentage shots (corner 3’s and layups), and the other portrays an offense which struggled to make much of anything from anywhere.

Lost in the shuffle tonight was an elite performance from Iowa State’s bench. How great was it to see Terrence Lewis being active on the offensive end, and Tre Jackson hitting his open looks? The Cyclones will need both guys to continue to stretch the floor and provide consistency from behind the arc, something both guys have struggled with this year as they both have searched for meaningful minutes. Next up, Iowa State will have to get more from Caleb Grill, who has really struggled this year to make a serious impact.

After a terrific performance, the Cyclones will have no room for error as they travel to Waco for a fistfight with Baylor (still ranked number 4 at the time of writing), who just knocked off Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse. Iowa State will have to do the little things well if they want to make some noise and pull off what would be a gargantuan upset.

Misc. Notes

  • While Coach Prohm’s decision to start George Conditt in place of Soloman Young really doesn’t show up in the box score, this is a change that had to be made in order to setup up Iowa State’s success in the future. George’s ability to protect the rim and swede opposing guards from attacking the basket is much greater than Solo’s, who should thrive in a smaller role against opposing bench players.
  • Iowa State averaged 1.246 points per possession against the Sooners. For context, Gonzaga currently leads the NCAA, averaging 1.171 ppp, while Iowa State averages 1.056 (36th).
  • Finally, it’s no secret what happens when this team knocks down their 3’s at a consistent clip: