Three Thoughts on Iowa State’s 59-41 NCAA Tournament Loss to Pittsburgh

Iowa State's Jaren Holmes

The sixth-seeded Iowa State Cyclones’ season came to an end at the hands of No. 11 seed Pittsburgh in a 59-41 decision in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Here are three thoughts on what transpired.

Extended delays

The Cyclones waited more than 10 minutes to score their first field goal. That came by guard Jaren Holmes at the 9:54 mark, at which point the Panthers already led 22-4. Holmes converted another layup just more than a minute later, though, and that ignited a 9-0 run and eventually an extended 19-5 spurt that drew the Cyclones back within six. And perhaps the long wait to put one through the hoop in live play is at least in part thanks to a long wait and delay in warm-ups because of an issue with the goal. Workers in the arena had to adjust the rim after it had been bent, costing the ‘Clones some time shooting in pregame.

Iowa State did not have that same excuse during the second half. But it fared the same. After intermission, Iowa State went a stretch of eight minutes without a field goal and 1-for-20 during a span that was part of 17-plus minutes with only a pair of baskets. Taking that long to score and scoring that few and far between is a great way to get blown out, and that’s exactly what happened.


Ice cold from the outside

One of the Big 12’s worst 3-point shooting teams certainly looked like one of the league’s worst 3-point shooting teams. Entering at only 33.9%, Iowa State couldn’t buy a long-range hit, connecting on only one of its first 15 attempts from behind the arc. And yet, it continued and continued to fire them up. Granted, a couple of 3-pointers would have completely changed the game when it was close for a time in the middle stages. But perhaps Iowa State should have tried playing from inside the arc a little bit more, emphasized by its 2-for-21 finish from long range. If not for guard Tamin Lipsey’s hit with just more than two minutes remaining, it would have served as the first time the Cyclones finished with one or few triples in the Big Dance since they were 1-for-12 in a 1997 matchup against Illinois State.


An ugly rock fight

Ian Eagle said it midway through the second half, and it perfectly depicted exactly what this game was: a rock fight. And an ugly one, at that. For the folks wanting something aesthetically pleasing, they probably turned the dial from truTV to CBS, TBS or TNT at some point in the first half and missed that comment by Eagle. It’s not exactly as much what Pittsburgh did to win this game as it was what Iowa State did to lose it. The Cyclones shot only 23.3%—you can fairly give some credit to Pittsburgh for that—while the Panthers didn’t exactly light it up either, at 34.1%. Brick after brick after brick might have the crew reconstructing the goal again for the rest of the Friday action.

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