By Ian Smith, CycloneFanatic.com Contributor
Follow Ian on Twitter @IanWsmith3
The Jekyll and Hyde Iowa State basketball team remains a mystery.
Are the Cyclones the team that went to South Padre and dominated? Or is Iowa State a mediocre squad with bad losses to Drake and Northern Iowa?
For 37 minutes on Saturday, the lackluster Cyclones didn’t belong on the same court as Michigan. In scramble mode the last three, Iowa State nearly pulled off a miraculous comeback before losing 76-66 in Ann Arbor.
Michigan mounted a 55-33 advantage in the second half, as the Cyclones couldn’t score. Iowa State made just 36 percent from the field and 6-of-27 from behind the arc. Unfortunately, those numbers were aided by the Cyclones’ late run.
The Cyclones (5-3) offense featured little movement, little tempo and too many forced shots on Saturday. Take out Royce White’s 10-for-15 shooting performance, and Iowa State hit only 14-of-57 shots (24.5 percent).
With the Cyclones struggling to score, Michigan started to pull away in the second half. The No. 15 Wolverines took a 34-25 advantage into halftime, but that quickly became a 15-18 lead for much of the second half.
When it looked like Iowa State would go quietly, the Cyclones woke up. White started the last ditch effort with a steal and a breakaway slam. The Michigan lead was cut to 10 at 68-58 when White finished another possession with a dunk.
Chris Allen’s 3-pointer with 22 seconds left pulled Iowa State within 72-66, but that was as close as the Cyclones would get.
Player of the game
Royce White brought it on Saturday. Now it’s time for his Iowa State teammates to match his intensity.
The sophomore finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds in the loss and connected on 10-of-15 shots.
White helped keep Iowa State in the game in the first half with nine points and 10 rebounds. The forward showed power around the hoop, but that’s where he needs to say.
When the Cyclones offense went through White on Saturday, Iowa State was at its best. The key will be getting him touches on nearly every possession the rest of the season.
– Royce White deserves a player of the game and a three up nod. The big man almost single handedly kept Iowa State in the game on Saturday. He will need to bring the same intensity each game for the Cyclones to be successful in the Big 12.
– Free throws – Iowa State made 12-of-15 from the charity stripe on Saturday.
– Bench points – The Cyclones outscored Michigan 22 to 12 off the bench. Tyrus McGee and Percy Gibson both notched seven points off the bench to pace Iowa State.
– Shooting – Iowa State shot 36 percent from the field on Saturday. Take out Royce White’s numbers and that’s 24.5 percent. That won’t be good enough to win a lot of games in the Big 12.
Against Michigan, the Cyclones offense looked stagnant. Instead of moving off the ball, Iowa State seemed content to stand around and force tough jumpers. Chris Allen and Chris Babb both struggled mightily from the field. Combined the duo went 6-of-28.
Melvin Ejim continued his frustrating play with only four points on 0-of-5 shooting.
– Turnovers – The assist to turnover ratio haunted Iowa State on Saturday. The Cyclones committed 11 turnovers against 11 assists. Not good.
– Defense – The defense wasn’t horrible on Saturday, but it wasn’t good enough to win. Iowa State had trouble identifying shooters in transition and allowed the Wolverines to get good looks at the hoop all game long. Michigan shot 48 percent from the field and had three players score more than 16 points.