Peterson: Iowa State’s Cy-Hawk hangover lasted just 20 minutes

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Cyclones coach Steve Prohm talks about how his team overcame a rough start
Randy Peterson/The Register

AMES, Ia. —You knew Iowa State would play like it played in the early stages of Sunday’s 78-58 basketball victory at Hilton Coliseum. You don’t get all hyped up in beating Iowa on Thursday, then expect everything to be just fine three days later.

There’s a hangover factor, a grace period when an opponent — let’s call it Alcorn State — plays better for a while than the home team.

You knew, too, that eventually these streaking Cyclones would snap out of their funk. All those shots they missed in the first half? You knew they’d start falling sometime before Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. game against Northern Iowa at Wells Fargo Arena.

And just like we all predicted, this was one of those games in which Iowa State didn’t look very Iowa State-like for most of the first 20 minutes.

And just like we figured, the Cyclones would be 7-2 heading into Saturday’s game in downtown Des Moines.

It just took a while — and sometimes that happens with experienced teams, as well as the youthful outfit that Steve Prohm coaches.

“You can’t de-value winning, but our performance wasn’t very good,” Prohm said. “We talked the last two days about not having a letdown — not having a setback, and really trying to fight against that.”

It just took a while for that talk to set in.

This one’s start was so annoying that Prohm called a timeout just 90 seconds after Alcorn won the tip.

He’s not usually an early timeout guy, but when an opponent that lost by 40 against LSU, by 37 against Creighton, by 28 against UNI, by 17 against Baylor and by 16 against Tulane has you stuck 8-zip — well, you call timeout.

Larry Eustachy, if you remember, called occasional timeouts within the first 15 seconds of some games. Prohm usually lets his guys play through badness, but Sunday was different.

He’d seen enough, so he rightly decided it was time for a chat.

“In the first half, we didn’t play with energy,” said Donovan Jackson, who scored 16 of his 25 points during his team’s 45-point second half.

“The second half, we knew we couldn’t get beat on our floor, so we had to turn it up.”

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After shooting 36 percent in the first half, Iowa State warmed up to 44 percent over the final 20 minutes. Its second-half 3-point shooting picked up to 50 percent (7 of 14).

“We just have to embrace and come ready to play,” Jackson said.

The Cyclones won their seventh game in a row, and that’s all that counts. Seven consecutive victories is the second-longest streak since Prohm has been the coach. The longest is nine, during the 2015-16 season.

“The streak we’re on, is that we’re 1-0,” Prohm corrected. “That’s the only streak.”

His vision extends only to the next film session and the next practice. This team isn’t good enough to look much past that — even if it is Northern Iowa on the other end of the floor Saturday as part of the Hy-Vee Classic.

“You can talk about the energy and you can talk about a lot of different things, but our margin for error is this,” Prohm said, showing the short distance between his thumb and pointer finger.

It wasn’t just lackadaisical early in the game. There were moments of goodness during a first half in which Iowa State made 11 of 30 field-goal attempts, including only 4 of 14 from 3-point range.

Hans Brase soared out of nowhere to tip in a missed shot. There were three shot-clock violations for Alcorn State in the first 13 minutes of game play.

Nick Weiler-Babb fired a nifty transition pass to Cameron Lard for an in-stride dunk that barely beat the first-half horn for a 33-32 Iowa State lead.

Weiler-Babb, by the way, had nine assists. His 10-or-more helpers streak ended at four games.

Mostly, though, the first half was one big Cy-Hawk bore.

All that changed after the break, just like we knew it would. Iowa State’s one-point advantage quickly reached 10 before Alcorn State scored.

It just took a while for it all to start happening.

Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at rpeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter at @RandyPete.

 

 

Source: Des Moines Register

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