KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Iowa State head coach T.J. Otzelberger called his Cyclones’ 72-41 loss to Texas Tech on Thursday night “unacceptable effort.”
He certainly didn’t mince words about it in the post-game press conference.
“On our end of things it was unacceptable effort,” Otzelberger said as his Cyclones exited the Big 12 Tournament. “Turning the ball over, letting them go in transition. Not limiting them to one shot, which is what we needed to do. They got some second-chance opportunities that helped them. Not our proudest moment. Unacceptable effort. We’ve just got to be better.”
There was little about Thursday’s loss for Otzelberger to like. The Cyclones shot 31.3 percent from the floor and 20 percent from the 3-point line. Iowa State turned the ball over 20 times, thanks to the Red Raiders’ stifling defense. Texas Tech patrolled the perimeter and held Iowa State’s leading scorer, Izaiah Brockington, to just seven points. He shot just 3-of-16 from the floor. He made just one 3-pointer.
Not a single Cyclone hit double figures in a game in which they were down 39-20 at halftime and were never really in the game.
These teams split in the regular season, with the Cyclones winning the meeting in Ames in early January and holding Texas Tech to just 47 points. Thursday’s game felt like Texas Tech returning the favor.
But, realistically, Tech hadn’t come together on offense by that point and the Cyclones took advantage with their great defense. By the time the pair met three weeks later in Lubbock, the Red Raiders had their offensive act together and won, 72-60.
On Thursday night, it was the mismatches with Texas Tech that did the Cyclones in.
“I mean, on the interior they have a lot of big bodies, they have depth,” Otzelberger said. “They keep throwing bodies at you. We’ve got to play with an unbelievable competitive spirit to offset some of the things we don’t have in terms of that size and physical play. They scored 42 points in the paint. That’s not acceptable.”
The solution isn’t simple, Otzelberger said. The Cyclones will get some time to work on it in Ames this week before they find out their seeding in the NCAA Tournament. The Cyclones are headed to March Madness for the first time since 2019, when they won the Big 12 Tournament.
Otz and his players were just hoping to duplicate that feat.
“We’ve just got to play really hard, we’ve got to pressure the basketball and we’ve got to be the aggressor,” Otzelberger said. “Felt like we came out tonight on our heels. That’s not going to be a recipe for success for us.”
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.