Jan 8, 2019; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears guard Mario Kegler (4) works around Iowa State Cyclones guard Marial Shayok (3) during the second half at Ferrell Center. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports
AMES — This one was inexcusable.
Iowa State’s home loss to Kansas State does not look as bad now considering the fact Bruce Weber’s team is, as of right now, on pace to win the league. I can give the Cyclones a pass for that, I guess.
The home loss to TCU was as disappointing of a home performance we have seen in Steve Prohm’s time in Ames. But even then, the Cyclones played one of their worst games of the season while the Horned Frogs played one of their best. You know, whatever, I can move on from it, especially when you answer with a win over those previously mentioned Wildcats in Manhattan.
But this one – a 73-69 loss to Baylor on Tuesday – was flat-out, 100 percent inexcusable. Big 12 championship programs do not lose games like this on their home floor. We now clearly know Iowa State is not on that level yet – and who knows when they will get there if not even arguably the program’s most talented team of this era cannot do it.
“It’s really mind-boggling, to be honest with you. If I had the exact perfect answer, we’d be about 25-1,” Prohm said after the game. “That’s part of coaching and learning and a team. We didn’t deserve to win tonight. That’s why it’s frustrating. If you play the right way and you get beat, you get beat. We’ve got good teams in this league. We didn’t play the right way.”
Baylor entered this game as the No. 2 team in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage. For those who do not understand, that means only one team out of 351 Division I men’s basketball programs is better than the Bears at corralling offensive rebounds.
Iowa State gave up 18 offensive rebounds on 38 missed shots that turned into 18 second-chance points. If there is one thing you should be prepared for when you face Baylor, it is offensive rebounding and the Cyclones gave up 18 of them.
“It’s tough to win at this level and so attention to detail, toughness plays, execution, understanding the scouting report, all that stuff matters,” Prohm said. “If you’re not executing in doing it, it’s going to be tough to win. We gave up 18 offensive rebounds. We finally get the lead and it’s like an offensive rebound, three. Close out, they’re all dominant right hand, they get to the middle or they get rhythm threes. We gave up 10 threes and we gave up 18 offensive rebounds. It’s going to be hard to win.”
Prohm was right to question this team’s toughness. Tough teams do not let the kind of performance we saw Tuesday happen. Even when shots might not be falling or the other team seems to be playing out of their minds, they figure out ways to make up for it by hustling their butts off and just making a decision that will do everything in their power to make sure they win the basketball game.
We have seen Iowa State do those things in flashes, but until they are done consistently every time they touch the court, this team is going to have a ceiling. This year’s Cyclones do too much to shoot themselves in the foot every single time things to start going their way and does that seem like something you want your team to be in the NCAA Tournament when emotions are riding at their absolute peak?
“We’ve just got to make a decision of what we really want to do as a team,” senior guard Marial Shayok, who finished with a team-high 20 points on Tuesday, said. “Really learn from these losses, but really it’s on us.”
Iowa State still has time to decide performances like we saw on Tuesday with Fred Hoiberg and Monte Morris in the house are not acceptable. Speaking of Hoiberg, “The Mayor” lost five home games in his final four years at Iowa State.
In the last two seasons, the Cyclones have lost 10 home games. I know last year’s team was a shell of what this program is used to, but three losses in Hilton Coliseum is…
Well, take it away Nick Weiler-Babb…
“It’s very frustrating. We talked about it before the game, we’re not supposed to lose at home in a place like this. It has a history of winning at home and we’re not doing any justice to it. It’s embarrassing,” Weiler-Babb, who scored eight points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished six assists, said. “We got out-toughed from the jump. They made a run early. We just laid down and took it.”
Iowa State had the talent to win the Big 12 title this season, but Big 12 championship level teams do not lay down and take physical beatings like that on their home floor. It takes a helluva a lot of toughness to be able to make it through the grind of this league on top.
On Tuesday in Hilton Coliseum, the Cyclones proved they do not have what it takes to fight through that grind all the way to the top.
“I could see it. I told my assistants at the first media timeout, I said, ‘We’re not where we need to be to right now to win this game tonight,'” Prohm said. “I’ve been around them too long. I knew we’d go to Texas Tech and win. I said it with Kansas State internally… The games we’ve lost at home, outside of TCU because we really practiced well, the other two games, I didn’t feel very good coming into the game as a coach. We’ve got to figure that out.”