Iowa State is a legitimate sweet 16 caliber team if they can get the right draw. In some ways, they are very similar to Alabama. Both teams have depth and scoring ability on the perimeter, have played average at best defense so far this year, and lack a real post presence. The difference, Iowa State is a little more talented and a lot more experienced. That, combined with the fact that this was a de-facto home game for them, and the outcome is not surprising.
We started the game on fire from 3 point range, but couldn't stop the Cyclones at the other end so we were unable to build a lead. Once the shots stopped falling for us, Iowa State was able to take over control of the game. While I like the fact that this team doesn't hold the ball and play scared offensively like we did at times last year, I thought poor shot selection hurt us at a couple of key points in the game. Hale had an off night, and he forced a couple of bad, contested shots early in the shot clock, both when Iowa State was on a run, and also when we had just fought back to tie or take the lead.
Cooper had a great game, and Levi had a nice second half after getting off to a slow start to keep us in the game. I would still like to see Coleman playing more as I think he puts everybody else in better position to score. I like Tarrant, but his shot selection hurt us at times.
Our defense looked bad at times, but Iowa State executes extremely well on offense. The mayor did a nice job of exploiting our weaknesses. When Riley Norris is manned up on an experienced, quick, athletic 4 in the post, we've got to recognize that he's going to need some help. Coleman and Tarrant's inexperience also showed on the defensive side at times. We did a little better after switching to a zone in the second half, but couldn't stop their perimeter shooting.
The good news is that most of the defensive mistakes were made by the newcomers, and I expect that aspect of our game to improve throughout the season.
We play Arizona State tonight at 6 pm in the 3rd place game. This should be more of a true neutral site game, I have no idea how well ASU travels for basketball, but Tempe to Kansas City is a haul. Plus, one would think the ISU fans will be supporting us to boost their own strength of schedule. The Devils have some sharp shooters, so our perimeter defense will need to be better tonight. This is a big game, we haven't won away from Tuscaloosa in ages, and we need a win to build some confidence with two difficult non-conference away games remaining.