Iowa State started off the season 14-0, including wins over Michigan, Iowa, and Baylor. But after starting their conference season 2-0, they have dropped their last three Big 12 games. Why? And can they get the ship righted?
Any discussion of Iowa State's struggles has to start with their play beyond the arc. The Cyclones take the second most three pointers in the league, attempting 41% of their field goals from three point land. But Iowa State is making just 28.3% of their three point attempts, good for second to last in the league. In a league that has been quite offensive (6th amongst the conferences in efficiency), Iowa State ranks 9th in offensive efficiency, scoring just 1.05 points per trip in conference play.
Each game has been something different for the Cyclones. Against Oklahoma, the Sooners shot 13-30 from three, while Iowa State was just 6-26. Against Kansas the Cyclones were outmuscled inside, where Joel Embiid frustrated Georges Niang into shooting just 4-11 from two (he was also 0-9 from three). And yesterday against Texas, the turnover margin did them in. Iowa State turned it over on 24% of their possessions while Texas turned it over on just 10.5% of their trips.
There's reason to be optimistic, though. Via hoop-math, Iowa State is allowing the third fewest field goal attempts at the rim in the entire country. While opponents are shooting at an above average percentage once they get there, the Cyclones' ability to limit good looks is a big plus for them going forward. If they can keep forcing opponents to attempt so many 2 point jumpers, the Cyclones will be in the thick of things at the end of the Big 12 season.