Iowa State Cyclones

Steve Prohm feels Iowa State basketball is in a good place as it breaks from Big 12 play

Cyclones take on Ole Miss in SEC/Big 12 Challenge

Iowa State guard Lindell Wigginton and Kansas forward Dedric Lawson dive for a loose ball during Monday's game at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan. (Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports)
Iowa State guard Lindell Wigginton and Kansas forward Dedric Lawson dive for a loose ball during Monday's game at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan. (Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports)

AMES — Iowa State men’s basketball coach Steve Prohm texted a message to his team the day after the Cyclones lost at No. 10 Kansas.

The message read, “Man, I love this team. I think we have a chance to do some really, really good things.”

Iowa State has lost its three Big 12 Conference games by a combined eight points.

The Cyclones take a break from conference play Saturday as Iowa State travels to No. 20 Mississippi (14-4) for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

The game provides Iowa State a good opportunity to take a breath from conference play and assess where it is at.

“You lose Monday and I was as frustrated and upset after that game as I’ve been because I thought we had a great opportunity to win,” Prohm said Wednesday. “We played really well for about 30 minutes, but we had a five-minute stretch that I’m going to show the guys from the 12-minute mark to the 7-minute mark where we weren’t good. At all. On both ends of the floor, and that cost us the game.”

After he showed the shortcoming, he showed the team how far they’ve actually come.

“What I’m going to show the guys is, ‘Hey, this is where we were a year ago,’” Prohm said.

The Cyclones went just 13-18 overall last season with a 4-14 conference record. Iowa State has already surpassed last season’s win total with a 14-5 overall record and a 4-3 conference mark.

But Prohm went past the traditional records and stats.

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“I have all the numbers — KenPom, BPI, NET and all of that stuff. After I show them last season, then I’m going to show them where we’re at today. And we’re not playing as good as we can play. That’s what I’m excited about.

“I have to coach better, they have to play better. We’re not at our ceiling. We have a lot of improvement to do.”

Iowa State has a top 25 offense and defense according to KenPom.

“We’re 14th in offense in the country and 22nd in defense in the country,” Prohm said. “We’re actually better defensively, in league play, than we are offensively.”

While the numbers and advanced stats love Iowa State, the Cyclones have been hit with scoring droughts and defensive lapses for stretches that cost them games.

Star guard Lindell Wigginton hasn’t consistently been himself since returning from injury and big man Cam Lard has also struggled with consistency.

Prohm has said those two need to be at their best for Iowa State to be at its best.

Marial Shayok has picked up the slack and is leading the Big 12 in scoring with 19.8 points while with staggering shooting splits up 51-40-86. He’s the only player in Division I men’s basketball to put up those percentages from the field, 3-point range and the free throw line, respectively.

“I love where we’re at, too,” Shayok said. “We haven’t played to the potential that I know we can play at. All of our games that we’ve lost have been close and we could’ve done things better to change that outcome. Hopefully we learn from these mistakes and they don’t come back to bite us down the road. We need to keep learning and growing.”

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