A win is a win, but some of them don’t always go down smoothly.
That statement sums up Iowa State’s 70-64 win over Texas Tech on Saturday. The Cyclones blew an 18 point lead before scraping together a final push to come out on top.
After getting embarrassed by West Virginia, this game was a chance to get back on track and finish the season strongly before the conference tournament and March Madness. And while Iowa State had to be feeling good in the first half, the second half and Texas Tech’s 29-10 run was absolutely jarring. Don’t get me wrong, the win is still important, but nearly blowing the game may have left the Cyclones shellshocked. If that’s the case, Tuesday’s game against Texas might be rough around the edges.
Texas Tech beat themselves by committing 13 turnovers, but take those errors away and the game might have ended differently. The Cyclones are lucky their complete lack of focus in the second half didn’t end up costing them.
What was also concerning was foul trouble. Melvin Ejim and Dustin Hogue had acquired four fouls apiece with around ten minutes left in the game. Ejim and Hogue’s foul situation definitely aided in Texas Tech out-rebounding Iowa State by ten, as the two account for 16 boards a game on average.
But more important than the foul situation, Iowa State couldn’t make the three and couldn’t hit a free throw. The Cyclones have numerous perimeter shooters, and when the three ball isn’t falling, it makes winning so much harder. As for free throws, the league’s new rules result in more opportunities to cash in at the line, and teams that want to go far in March have to be able to connect there. Keep in mind that on Saturday the Cyclones shot 9-19, 47 percent, from the line in their own house.
That’s awful. Just awful. How is that even possible? There’s literally no noise when the home team has a shooter at the free throw line.
In any event, Iowa State needs to get it together, and fast. The game against Texas at the Hilton Coliseum is, at this moment, their last regular season game against a ranked opponent. They need to show that they can win convincingly and put together some actual momentum for tournament time. Yes, they’ve won four out of the last five, but those excellent wins against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State seem like distant memories. A resounding win against Texas would go a long way towards morale in these final weeks.