Jan 16, 2024; Provo, Utah, USA; Iowa State Cyclones head coach T.J. Otzelberger looks on during the second half against the Brigham Young Cougars at Marriott Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports
Iowa State head coach T.J. Otzelberger spoke candidly and forcefully.
His No. 24 Cyclones had just been blown out, 87-72, by 20th-ranked BYU Tuesday in Provo, Utah, and searching for a silver lining would have been an exercise in futility.
The Cougars (14-3, 2-2) utterly dominated the Cyclones (13-4, 2-2) in every facet of the game — including defense, which is what Otzelberger’s team “hangs its hat on.”
“They were the more aggressive team,” Otzelberger said on the Cyclone Radio Network. “They deserve credit for that. We didn’t have the energy, (or) the ball pressure. Their push offensively put us on our heels.”
BYU held a mere four-point edge at halftime, but led by as many as 24 points in the second half and outscored ISU by a combined 31 points behind the 3-point line and at the free-throw stripe. Transfer guard Keshon Gilbert led the Cyclones with 16 points and freshman forward Milan Momcilovic added 11 points as Otzelberger’s team suffered its most lopsided loss since being trounced, 59-41, by Pittsburgh in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last March.
ISU entered the game as the nation’s leader in turnover percentage, according to KenPom, but forced just 11 turnovers against the Cougars while coughing up 13 of its own. The Cyclones shot 4-for-14 from 3-point range and are a troubling 13-for-60 (21.7 percent) from beyond the arc in conference play.
“We have a high standard for how we do things at all times,” Otzelberger said. “That didn’t show up for us here tonight.”
ISU’s leading scorer, rebounder and assist man, Tamin Lipsey, took a shot to his shoulder late in the second half and finished with nine points, four rebounds and a team-high five assists.
“We’ll get his shoulder reevaluated,” Otzelberger said. “I don’t know the ins and outs. He’s got some ice on it right now, so it’s one he’s had some issues with, so we’ll continue to monitor it and make sure we do everything we can in his best interests to be healthy.”
Neither team led by more than three points early, but ISU took a 25-24 lead on a Robert Jones dunk with 7:18 left in the first half. BYU responded immediately with one of its seven 3-pointers before the break and eventually built its biggest lead, at 37-30, on Spencer Johnson’s long-range basket with 1:48 remaining. The Cyclones’ Milan Momcilovic then drilled a 3-pointer and Lipsey hit a short jumper before the first-half buzzer sounded to make the score 39-35 at the break.
Johnson scored 19 first-half points on 6-for-12 3-point shooting to lead the Cougars, who grabbed nine offensive rebounds before the break to ISU’s three. Lipsey and backup forward Hason Ward led ISU with seven points apiece before halftime.
BYU took control early in the second half as ISU struggled to get any good looks or string together stops.
The Cyclones will try to rebound on Saturday against No. 19 TCU on the road. The Horned Frogs lost in overtime Tuesday at Cincinnati.
“It’s a great test for us and I’m excited to get to it,” Jones said. “Saturday comes quick.”