116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — Iowa State soared for six dunks.
The No. 19 Cyclones grabbed 17 offensive rebounds and easily dispatched Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 83-64, Wednesday at Hilton Coliseum, but the postgame vibe from head coach T.J. Otzelberger on down settled somewhere between somber and ticked off.
“There (were) just times we were too complacent,” said Otzelberger, whose team improved to 7-0 despite numerous and lengthy second-half lapses on the defensive end. “Things weren't going exactly how we had hoped or scripted offensively — and you could sense that. I didn't like our body language. It needs to be better. We just need to be a more stubborn, tough team every single possession and not play the scoreboard. So that was disappointing.”
Iowa State guard Izaiah Brockington eased some of that team-wide consternation over an uneven effort by notching 23 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He posted his third career double-double — all coming in his first seven games as a Cyclone.
So Brockington was a bright spot, but that didn’t cheer him up very much.
“I mean, it just really stems from the fact that we know we didn't play our best on either end, really,” said Brockington, who had two-thirds of his team’s dunks. “And I feel like we let offense kind of bring the defense down, and we just can't have that. We're a defensive team, first and foremost. So we’ve just got to get better with our habits and just come out and be ready the next game.”
Iowa State started slowly Wednesday, missing 12 of its first 14 shots before a putback basket from forward George Conditt IV made the score 9-7 with 12:07 remaining in the first half. Conditt contributed nine of his 11 points and all seven of his rebounds (five offensive) before the break as the Cyclones finally found their footing offensively and built a 38-22 lead.
“He's coming out with terrific energy,” Otzelberger said. “We didn't get going offensively early and he was inspiring by keeping plays alive on the offensive boards … He’s setting the tone for how hard we need to play. Rebounding energy is something we talk about every single day and for him to give that type of effort out there is commendable, and we’ll continue to challenge him to do it because it makes us a different team.”
Conditt’s effort on the offensive glass proved to be contagious. ISU hoarded 17 offensive rebounds to the Golden Lions’ six and crafted an 18-4 edge in second-chance points.
“We need to be relentless on the offensive boards,” Otzelberger said. “It's something we practice every day. We emphasize (it). We watch film. We teach, we drill, and we talk about (it), so I'm glad that they're continuing to do that. Again. I wasn't particularly thrilled with how we guarded the basketball and how we rotated defensively, but I think one of the positives to take away was our offensive rebounding energy that helped propel us through some tough times.”
Defensive precision and intensity, Otzelberger has stressed since his first news conference as the Cyclones’ first-year head coach, will be the hallmark for his program. Wednesday, that 40-minute commitment seemed to waver. Hence the disappointment in a 19-point win that would be categorized from afar as “comfortable.”
For Otzelberger’s team, it was anything but.
“Like coach said, we have to be locked in,” said ISU guard Tre Jackson, who scored all 12 of his points in the second half. “We have to go through those habits each day. We have a standard that we have to uphold each day. That’s the reason that we're at this point that we’re at right now — those standards and those habits, everything we’ve been doing leading up to this point.”