Cyclones move to 7-0 despite second-half defensive struggles

Iowa State gave up 42 points in the second half on Wednesday night at Hilton Coliseum.

That didn’t make head coach T.J. Otzelberger happy, but the No. 19 Cyclones still came out with an 83-64 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

“I understand for our guys coming off of our trip, we felt like we had their attention in practices, but it didn’t show up the way we would like tonight,” Otzelberger said. “The standard that we have for our program, defensively, is at a much higher level than allowing a team to score 42 points on our court in the second half.”

The win improves the Cyclones’ mark to 7-0 on the season. It’s the program’s best start to a season since beginning the 2015-16 campaign with nine straight wins.

That’s created a team with some expectations behind it. Three games into the year, Otzelberger wasn’t angry following a narrow, 8-point win against Grambling State.

Wednesday, he was irate with a 19-point victory.

“There were just times we were too complacent,” Otzelberger said. “Things weren’t going exactly how we had hoped, offensively, and I sensed that in our body language. We need to just be a more stubborn-tough team and not play the scoreboard. That was disappointing.”

Arkansas-Pine Bluff, which fell to 1-8 with the loss to the Cyclones, shot 48% (12-25) in the final 20 minutes and nearly outscored the home team.

Iowa State still managed 45 in the period, though.

“We can’t have let-ups,” Otzelberger said. “We can’t have guys picking and choosing when they’re going to (play defense).”

That’s not to take away from the positives on the night.

Izaiah Brockington lit up the stat page once again, collecting 23 points and 10 rebounds in the game.

George Conditt had one of his best halves this year, grabbing five offensive rebounds – seven total – and nine points before the team went back to the locker room.

“He’s had a few games now where he’s gotten five-plus offensive rebounds in a short period of time, which I’m proud of George for that,” Otzelberger said. “He’s really impacting winning and he’s setting the tone for how hard we need to play… We’ll continue to challenge him to do it because it makes us a completely different team.”

Tre Jackson showcased some defense of his own, delivering a steal in the first half that led to a dunk and ignited a Hilton Coliseum crowd, eager to cheer for a winning basketball team.

Iowa State will return to the floor on Saturday night, going on the road to face Creighton in Omaha, Neb. as part of the Big 12/Big East Battle. The game is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. and can be seen live on Fox Sports 1.