Jan 30, 2021; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Iowa State Cyclones guard Jalen Coleman Lands (5) handles the ball against Mississippi State Bulldogs forward Abdul Ado (24) during the first half at Humphrey Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
AMES — What is there left to say?
Rarely do I sit down at the keyboard and find myself at a loss for words. Those situations never come after Iowa State men’s basketball games.
Except this one, I suppose.
Iowa State lost to TCU 76-72 on Saturday at Hilton Coliseum. It was the Cyclones’ 14th consecutive loss, tying a school record. It was the seventh-straight home loss, also tying a school record.
This was a game most people probably thought the Cyclones had a shot to win.
Sure, they’d lost to TCU a few weeks ago and hadn’t won a conference game in 368 days, but if they were going to avoid a winless Big 12 regular-season record, then this game–against another of the league’s bottom-tier teams on the home floor–had to be their best chance, right?
Even Las Vegas had the Cyclones pegged as one-point favorites. This felt like the one to break the streak and get Iowa State basketball something, anything, positive to feel heading into the regular season’s final week.
Instead, the Horned Frogs built a 14-point lead in the first half and connected on all 18 of their free-throw attempts on their way to victory. The Cyclones’ best player, Rasir Bolton, didn’t play in the second half due to an ankle injury.
We found out how things could get worse in a season when things already felt like they couldn’t get any worse.
I’m not sure what else there is to say at this point.
“Obviously, they’re probably beyond crushed,” Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm said of his team after the game. “They’re competitors. They’ve been resilient. They’ve persevered through everything that’s been thrown at them this year. And so, obviously, it’s a disappointed locker room. Because we haven’t won. And so there’s no magical speech that I can give them.”
This team simply goes on too many stretches of being unable to score to win basketball games. And against the Horned Frogs, there were multiple several-minute-long scoreless streaks.
This team has too much trouble being able to create offense when opposing defenses make things difficult by being physical and applying hard pressure. TCU did that quite a bit in this game.
This team cannot get the stops it needs when the chips are down and it is time to make a play to win a game. That’s why close game after close game has gone to the opposing teams.
The unfortunate fact of the matter is basketball does not care how good your character is, how much you care or how good a guy you are.
It is a beautiful game but it can be equally as cruel.
Iowa State has had to learn that the hard way a lot this winter.
“This is a players game. It’s a kids game,” Prohm said. “And you want to see these guys get some success. That’s my job to give them opportunities to be successful. And enjoy it. And you got to figure out a way to do that.”
The kids on this Iowa State men’s basketball team have earned my respect forever.
Their team is going to be remembered for a lot of bad reasons, like the historic numbers I mentioned previously. It should also be remembered as a team that never game up in the face of one of the worst seasons in the program’s history.
They continue to fight, claw and do everything they can to try and win basketball games.
They just can’t win basketball games — or at least they haven’t shown they can at this point.
That’s the part that really sucks about this. This team does a lot of the things it takes to win basketball games and, for the most part, they play more than hard enough to have earned the reward of one freaking win.
This is basketball’s cruelty on display in Ames, Iowa, and nobody seems to have the answers for what it takes to bring the beauty back out.
And I’m not sure what more there is to say than that.
“We’ve got to get back on a horse and be ready to go for Texas on Tuesday,” Prohm said. “You want to win for the seniors, you want to win for all these kids. They deserve it. I just got to help them more. So we can get over the hump.”