By the time the Cyclones take the court Saturday against Kansas State, it will have been roughly a week — save a few hours — since their last game, an 87-76 loss at Texas, their third consecutive defeat.
Often, such a layoff after a tough loss is a pain; frustrated teams would rather get the bad taste out of their mouth the next day or two.
No. 16 Iowa State, however, is relishing its time off. The players came off relaxed and loose Monday at the weekly availability — not the signs of a dispirited group — and there are some bumps and bruises that need healing, especially DeAndre Kane's left ankle.
"It's OK, getting better," Kane said. "I'm still getting treatment on it."
Said head coach Fred Hoiberg: "I do think it's coming at a good time. Number one, get the guys a little rest and get their legs fresh. Had a couple of nagging injuries that'll be god to get cleared up. Then we've got some things to work on, got to find a package we feel for the full 40 minutes will give us a chance to win."
Against Kansas and Texas, Iowa State took a 36-all tie into the locker room, only to slip up in the second half, victims of sloppy offensive execution.
In five conference games, the Cyclones (14-3, 2-3 Big 12) are shooting 28.3 percent from three-point range and thrice have committed 10 turnovers or more, including 18 Saturday in Austin.
Turnover averages for conference and non-conference are similar, at roughly 10 per game, but something's wrong it's happening in mid-January, and something's definitely awry with the team's shooting (the Cyclones shot 36.8 percent in non-conference games from distance).
A few days before the Texas game, Iowa State held a 45-minute shootaround to set in motion some good momentum before the road trip. It didn't work very well. On Sunday, the team held a players-only film study.
"Thought that was a positive that they took the initiative to do that," Hoiberg said, "[to] talk amongst each other and see the things we did or didn't do."
Big 12, best in the country?
Six Big 12 teams are ranked in the AP Top 25 this week, tied for the most in league history (but the most since the conference shifted to 10 teams).
Kansas and Oklahoma State haven't disappointed, Baylor sort of has, and Oklahoma, Kansas State and Texas have been pleasant conference surprises.
"Every night you better be ready," Hoiberg said. "Top to bottom it is the best conference in the country."
ESPN's Joe Lunardi has seven Big 12 teams making the NCAA tournament.
Perils of social media
Hoiberg has advised freshman guard Matt Thomas to shut his Twitter down in the midst of a bad shooting slump.
"He's got people, who aren't real fans, saying bad things," Hoiberg said.
Thomas is hitting 31.5 percent of his three-point attempts, including 23.5 percent in Big 12 play.
The players say the love and hate on social media comes with the territory.
"You can't take anything really personal on social media," Naz Long said.
Niang's numbers are down but he's connected on 50 percent or better in 14 games.