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Before now, it didn’t seem likely the Iowa State men’s basketball team would lose in Lubbock for the second year in a row. Even with five minutes left in the second half it didn’t seem like the Cyclones would fall to Tubby Smith’s squad.
They did, with the final being 85-82 in a game that needed one overtime.
It was quite possibly the most frustrating game yet, and that’s no statement to take lightly considering the way this season has played out.
Here are my five takeaways from Iowa State’s loss to Texas Tech:
1. Late game shot selection
It makes absolutely no sense to me how Iowa State’s shot selection can be so good for 85 percent of a game before completely going down the toilet in the final moments. Situations when they’d look for a Georges Niang post up or a drive to the rim earlier in the game, become contested 3-pointers and long-twos late.
The one that sticks out to me the most is Monte Morris’s 3-point attempt at the end of regulation. It looked like Steve Prohm had designed a play to get the ball to Niang in the post, but Morris looked him off and took the shot instead.
Was he open? Maybe. Was it a good shot? That answer is a resounding no.
If the game is tied and you have the chance to get the last shot (or close to it) you should be looking to get to the rim every single time, and when I mean every single time, I mean it. Heck, you should be looking to get the rim every single time in just a close game.
That especially rings true for a team as successful at getting to the rim as Iowa State.
The Cyclones have had some situations that ended up working out in their favor when they took jumpers late in the clock, but that isn’t always going to happen.
Next time, Monte, throw the ball inside to Georges.
2. A closer
On a similar note I think Iowa State has developed a bit of a confusion in their metaphorical bullpen. The Cyclones have a closer problem.
Is it Monte Morris or is it Georges Niang?
They’ve both had their opportunities to take shots in the big moments, and they’ve both had their successes and failures in those big moments. Who is the guy that is going to get the ball in a tie game with seconds on the clock?
Wednesday night it looked like the play meant for that guy to be Niang, but Morris called an audible and took the shot himself. I’m not saying there’s some kind of controversy, because there isn’t. I just think there needs to be some discussion as to who is going to be “the guy” when the Cyclones most need a bucket.
3. Niang and the front end
I don’t know what the statistic is on this but I intend to look it up on Thursday. It seems like no player in the country struggles on the front end of one-and-one’s like Georges Niang.
He missed another crucial one Wednesday night that would’ve been huge for Iowa State at the time. There isn’t really much that can be done to change anything because it’s just another free throw.
Free throws are about 95 percent mental and the other five percent is getting the ball to the rim. We all know Niang can get the ball to the rim so I’m thinking the issue is most likely on the mental side.
4. Nader’s flagrant
I’m going to preface this by saying I think Abdel Nader played one of his best games as a Cyclone Wednesday night in Lubbock. He was efficient, aggressive and smart for nearly the whole game.
That ended when he grabbed Justin Gray from behind when he was about to complete a wide-open layup leading to a flagrant foul. I’ve been critical of Nader at times this season, but in the moment that seemed like the worst play Nader’s made all year.
Luckily, it only ended up costing the Cyclones two points as the flagrant shots were 1-of-2 and then Tech’s Zach Smith hit 1-of-2 at the line on the ensuing possession.
In that situation, it would have been best to just let Gray have the layup or at least try to make a play on the ball to foul. In the end, it all worked out the same.
I just really hope that kind of situation doesn’t come up again.
5. The goaltend
Ah, yes, the most controversial moment of the night.
There were two minutes and 10 seconds left on the clock when Morris was headed towards the rim on a fast break for a right handed layup. His shot hit the backboard before Texas Tech’s Devaugntah Williams flew in to block it off the board again.
It was so clearly a goal tend. It had to be a goal tend. In the officials’ eyes, it wasn’t a goal tend, at least they didn’t call one.
The next possession Tech banked in a 3-pointer with less than five seconds left on the shot clock to take an 83-80 lead. They never gave it back.
It should’ve been a goal tend.