Nov 10, 2017; Columbia, MO, USA; Iowa State Cyclones forwards Zoran Talley (23) and Solomon Young (33) and guard Nick Weiler-Babb (1) and Missouri Tigers guard Jordan Geist (15) fight for a loose ball in the second half at Mizzou Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
AMES — Iowa State fans sat in stunned silence.
Not because a team such as Baylor had strung together a stirring mid-winter run to escape Hilton Coliseum with a victory.
Not because an utterly stacked Kansas team simply proved to be the better team, regardless of the “magic” that most definitely exists in the storied arena.
No, Monday, those 13,853 fans — a hardy few of them, anyway — stuck out a miscue-riddled 74-56 home season-opening setback to Milwaukee, a team picked to finish eighth in the Horizon League.
The Panthers ran the Cyclones out of the gym Big 12 teams typically dread entering and often leave shaking their heads.
So what went wrong? Where to start?
The Cyclones turned the basketball over 18 times, coughing up 11 in the first half. They made 16 field goals and shot 5-for-20 in the second half. A mere five assists were dished out and Lindell Wigginton had three of those.
ISU also shot just 3-for-15 from 3-point range — and misfired on all eight second-half attempts, so just about every area needs major work.
“We have a lot to work on, we’ve got a lot to get better, we’ve got a lot to improve on and we’ve got a couple guys coming back,” ISU coach Steve Prohm said. “But the biggest thing right now is we’ve just got to teach how to get better on a daily basis in every area. As we do that better, then we’ll become a good basketball team. Seasons go through peaks and valleys. One thing I’ve learned (from) people that I’ve been around, you can’t get too high through success, you can’t get too low when you struggle.”
ISU (0-2) lost its home opener for the first time since Northern Iowa snuck out of Hilton with a 54-48 win in 1997. ISU also saw a 15-game November win streak snapped — a run of early season success that traced back to the 2012-13 season.
“I’m not happy with our performance,” said Zoran Talley, who scored eight points while grabbing a team-best nine rebounds. “As a team we set a goal for 10 or less turnovers. Tonight we came out with 18. We’ve got to take care of the ball because that’s just lack of taking care of — those possessions, just given away.”
Nick Weiler-Babb and Jeff Beverly scored 11 points apiece to pace the Cyclones, who pulled within two at 41-39 after Talley’s 3-point play with 15:45 left, but trailed by double digits the final 10:52 of the game.
“Everybody wants to talk offense, offense, offense, offense, offense,” Prohm said. “You know. We need to be the toughest, nastiest, most competitive team in the country this year. That’s what we need to be. And if we can get there, we’re going to do good things, because we need to score off our defense. We need to play in transition early offense. We don’t need to be a slug it out, grind it out team. So we need to play with a chip on our shoulder. A nastiness to prove people wrong and a toughness about us that we have so much resiliency and character about us that we’re going to fight through this. That’s what we need to be about.”
Prohm was at his most demonstrative when he delivered the preceding words. He then was asked how far this team is away from embodying them.
“A good way,” Prohm said. “But that’s the fun of coaching, because when you get there, that’s rewarding. And that’s what I told the guys in the locker room: ‘You’ve got to trust. You’ve got to believe. You’ve got to understand, hey, individually we’ve been here. As a staff, we’ve been here. We’ve been in these moments, you know, where everybody’s going to say — you know what they’re going to say. You don’t have to check Twitter. You already know what’s on Twitter. You know, but at the end of the day, we’ve got a long way to go. You know, and we know the road map to get there, so we’ll get there if we can get the right pieces in place.”
Two of those pieces — Big men Hans Brase and Cameron Lard — will be available when ISU begins play in the Puerto Rico Tip-off Thursday at 4:30 p.m. (ESPNU) against Appalachian State in Conway, S.C.
“They’ll both be ready to go,” Prohm said.
Perhaps this revamped Cyclone team will be, too.
Prohm’s been through tough times before. So have his players. Monday could become just a bump in the road — if the proper response, both mental and physical, materializes.
“I’ve seen this before,” Prohm said. “Times when you have an overhaul of guys and you’ve got to stay the course. You’ve got to stay the course, you’ve got to stay the course. You’ve got to continue to believe — stay the course of what you believe is important. And if you do that, good things will happen. That’s what I’ve held true to and it’s been really good for me and it will be really good for this program. You’re going to go through tough moments in seasons and this is one of those tough moments and hopefully we have the character to continue to grow and get better.”