Still Reeling

Iowa State could not have found a lower low than it hit Wednesday night in an 88-73 home loss to Texas Tech and head coach Bobby Knight. Larry Eustachy's team actually led briefly in the second half, but lackluster defense led to its downfall against a hot-shooting team.

The Red Raiders dropped Jake Sullivan and company even further from their postseason dreams at 2-7 in Big 12 play and 12-8 overall, while bolstering their own hopes in Knight's 801st victory as a head coach.

"We've had some problems offensively and defensively," said the legendary coach afterwards. "If I would have been told Iowa State scores 46 points in the first half, I'd have said we were in trouble. But we really shot the ball well and played good defense in the second half.

"We got a lead and kept it. We've had trouble playing the final five minutes of games, but we played well down the stretch tonight."

It was clear the Cyclones lost this game on the defensive end, allowing Tech to hit a sizzling 64 percent from the floor on 34-of-53 shooting. Andre Emmett, Will Chavis and Kasib Powell combined for 63 of 88 points in the victory. But on the other end, Sullivan and Jackson Vroman didn't get much help during a critical stretch of the second half.

The two juniors put out their best offensive performances of the season in scoring 53 combined points on 23-of-36 shooting. Tim Barnes' struggles continued and freshman Adam Haluska climbed in and out of Eustachy's doghouse on his way to three points on 1-of-4 shooting.

Sullivan had some terse words for his team's uninspired play afterwards.

"We've got seven games left and I hope everyone believes we can go into Kansas and do something," he said. "If you don't, stay home. Start buying into what coach is saying. Spirits are down a little bit, but we've got seven games and a conference tournament. A lot of crazier things have happened."

Not many Cyclone fans had seen a Eustachy-coached team get scorched defensively the way it did Wednesday night. Tech had its way with ISU and locked up the game with a 16-2 run midway through the second half. The Cyclones went scoreless for more than four minutes and netted just one field goal in a span of 5:04.

"We weren't tough enough down the stretch and let fatigue get to us, played tired and just rolled over on these guys in the crunch time," Vroman said. "We're not going to outscore a lot of these teams in the Big 12. We need to get defensive stops, and gave up 88 points. We're not going to win a lot of games giving up that many.

"It was us breaking down. We didn't rotate well and keep guys in front of us. They out-toughed us tonight. They got the loose balls better than us. It's disappointing."

In one of his shortest post-game press conferences of the season, Eustachy struggled finding words to describe his team's performance.

He was asked to describe the differences in ISU and Texas Tech.

"Maturity. Toughness. There was a stretch in the second half where we just played some real terrible basketball," he said. "Turnovers led to easy baskets. We can't stop anybody. This is as disappointed as I've been as a coach, defensively. The commitment to the defensive end is lip service. We're working hard to correct it. We've gotten to the bottom of our team. It's going to take a while."

That won't get any easier, as the Cyclones travel to Kansas for a Sunday tipoff at Noon.


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