After winning their first six games of the season No. 18 Arkansas faced its toughest test to date Thursday, as they visited No. 20 Iowa State. Mike Anderson’s pressure defense has worked well in home games during his tenure, but the results have been mixed when it comes to road games. Unfortunately for Arkansas that’s exactly how things played out in Ames, as they were unable to slow down an incredibly efficient Iowa State attack.
Fred Hoiberg’s Cyclones shot 64 percent from the field (10-for-19 3PT) and committed just 11 turnovers (19 assists), winning by the final score of 95-77. Bryce Dejean-Jones scored 27 points on 8-for-8 shooting from the field and Georges Niang added 26 and eight assists, and the junior forward was a key player in Iowa State’s breaking of the Arkansas full-court press.
Niang’s ability to not only handle the basketball but distribute it in the open floor is an incredibly valuable asset when going against full-court pressure, and on multiple occasions he was able to get the ball to his teammates. Iowa State was then able to use their ball movement, working from one side of the court to the other, to find openings either on the perimeter or on the low block.
All five starters scored in double figures for Iowa State, and the combination of balance and efficiency proved to be too much for Arkansas to overcome.
Just as bad for Arkansas was the fact that Iowa State converted 14 Razorback turnovers into 22 points, outscoring Arkansas by six point in that category. Add in a 36-16 Iowa State advantage in points in the paint, and it isn’t all that difficult to figure out why the game was so lopsided. Arkansas’ system is predicated on forcing live-ball turnovers and converting them into points on the other end, and Iowa State took that away.
But that’s what Iowa State can do to most teams when they’re on. The question every year for Hoiberg’s team is how they’ll go about incorporating transfers into their system, and each year he makes it work. The latest addition is Dejean-Jones, a player who was rarely described as “efficient” during his time at UNLV. Through six games he’s found a better fit in Ames, with his performance Thursday being his best in an Iowa State uniform.
Arkansas arrived in Ames with hopes of adding an early signature win to their resume, but their inability to force Iowa State out of their comfort zone resulted in their first defeat of the season.