Dec 7, 2017; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones forward Cameron Lard (2) dunks against the Iowa Hawkeyes at James H. Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones beat the Hawkeyes 84 to 78. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
AMES — Earlier this week, Steve Prohm called the game before Christmas break one of the most difficult of the season.
Wednesday night at Hilton Coliseum, it appeared as though his Iowa State team was going to blow that theory out of the water. The Cyclones jumped out to an early 8-0 advantage and led Maryland Eastern Shore 34-17 at the half-time break.
The Cyclones held the Hawks to just 21.9 percent shooting from the field while playing well enough offensively. But the following 20 minutes were a different story as the Hawks outscored Iowa State 32-21 and forced 11 Iowa State turnovers.
Sure, Iowa State won the game 55-49 for its ninth straight victory, tying for the longest streak under Prohm, but it was hard to walk out of Hilton Coliseum without feeling like you needed a long shower.
“It was lackadaisical offense, no ball movement, no player movement,” Prohm said. “I can stand over there and scream, but we just weren’t in rhythm, just weren’t locked in, weren’t dialed in. Why the reason? I don’t know. Saturday, you look at us and the way we competed the last two second halves, Iowa and Northern Iowa, and we just didn’t compete like that.”
This was an ultimate “bury the tape and move on” game. They got through it. They won and, for now, that’s all that really matters.
That does not mean there weren’t any positives because there were.
Cameron Lard scored in double-figures for the sixth time this season while leading the team with 15 points. Nick Weiler-Babb and Solomon Young each grabbed 12 rebounds.
Guys showed they are capable of stepping up on nights when freshman phenom Lindell Wigginton struggles, as he did against Maryland Eastern Shore shooting just 2-of-10 from the field for five points with two rebounds and three turnovers.
“It was a rough game tonight, but we can’t devalue winning,” senior guard Donovan Jackson, who finished with 12 points, the 18th double-figure scoring performance of his Iowa State career, said. “It’s just a step forward. We’ve just got to keep moving forward.”
Now the team can go home for a few days and rest up. They’re going to need it if the Cyclones’ list of available players remains as depleted as it was on Wednesday.
Something more important looms — the Big 12 slate kicked off by a home contest against Kansas State on Dec. 29.
“No excuses for how we competed and played tonight,” Prohm said. “It’s on all of us, but don’t devalue winning. It’s good to get these guys home with their families to enjoy the holidays, but we’ve got to get back on the 26th and get ready for the Big 12. One thing I’m proud of these guys is a month ago we probably were in rough, rough shape. We were in rough shape. They’ve put themselves after the non-conference season, obviously, we’ve got Tennessee in the challenge, but to where if we hold serve in the Big 12, we’ll have an opportunity to play in March. That’s our goal. That’s been our goal since day one.”
“Goals don’t change here for us. No matter who we lose or bring in.”