Feb 4, 2017; Lawrence, KS, USA; Iowa State Cyclones guard Nazareth Mitrou-Long (15) makes a layup during the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse. Iowa State won 92-89. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
The talk surrounding Iowa State (14-9, 6-5) heading into Saturday’s Big 12 showdown with Oklahoma (8-15, 2-9) mostly has to do with consistency – or a lack thereof.
A perfect example: The last time these two teams met, Iowa State trailed 30-9 in Norman only to come back and win a thriller in double-overtime.
Since then, Iowa State has come back from 15 down in Allen Fieldhouse (which basically never happens) and after trailing by 17 last Tuesday at Texas, fell short of what could have been a season boosting road victory.
“We just have to be more ready to go,” head coach Steve Prohm said. “It happens too much but there is no magic recipe. We just have to continue to stay on these guys about being focused and come out ready to execute on both ends of the floor.”
Frustration is the word that was uttered quite often on Thursday at Iowa State’s media availability.
Why does this continue to happen with this particular group of players? It happened under Hoiberg. It’s happening under Prohm. So what’s the deal?
“You can put it on me,” Prohm said. “It’s on me. I’m the head coach. I will take responsibility for it. I know what needs to be done to get it fixed but we have to do it.”
Senior guard Matt Thomas seems very confident that he knows what the issue is.
“It comes down to effort now,” said Thomas. “We just had no sense of urgency at the start of (the Texas) game and that’s how it’s been in those slow starts or when we’ve been inconsistent. It’s really been a lack of effort or just us not really running any offense. Obviously the hustle plays, the toughness plays, the 50-50 plays that you have to win when you want to get road wins, we didn’t do that at Texas and that’s why we lost. … It’s a collective effort. It’s everybody. It’s one to 15.”
Whatever it is, Saturday is a great opportunity for the Cyclones to get on track for a key stretch from now until the rest of the season. The Big 12 is brutal but after playing four if its last six games on the road, Iowa State will be home for four of the finals six games this season.
Win at home
There are three key reasons for fan discontent this season.
1) Iowa State’s lopsided loss to Iowa.
2) Other than Miami on a neutral court, Iowa State doesn’t have a key non-conference victory on its resume.
3) This is probably the most important: Iowa State has uncharacteristically lost three games at home this season. Fans aren’t used to that.
“We have to play better at home,” Prohm said. “We lost to three really good teams but we do need to play better. We need to play with more of an edge. We need to play more focused. If we can do that, we won’t be down probably 30-9. Each day is new. Each game is new.”
Five points on Iowa State vs. Oklahoma
1) Lon Kruger loves Monte Morris
This is what he said about Iowa State’s point guard during his Thursday teleconference.
“He impacts the game in so many ways. He is an outstanding leader. He is a guy who can score when he needs to. He has outstanding anticipation defensively. He’s a terrific around player.”
2) One crazy series
In five of the last seven times that these two teams have met, the winning team has come back from a double-digit deficit.
Including this year, Iowa State’s record has been 6-5 on Feb. 10 in three of the last four seasons.
4) Long streaks
After starting off the season 6-2 (vs. a weak non-con), Oklahoma went on a seven game losing streak from Dec. 10 to Jan. 10.
Jordan Woodard returned to the lineup after fighting an injury and the Sooners won a couple of games in a row vs. Texas Tech at West Virginia in the middle of January.
Since then, the Sooners have lost six in a row.
This piece by Jesse Newell in the Kansas City Star is an absolute must-read on the strength of the Big 12.