The worst thing that could have happened to Iowa State appears to be pulling into a tie for first place in the Big 12 race.
Since Kansas lost at Kansas State on Monday, the Cyclones are 0-2, falling two games off of the pace and essentially ending any chance of winning an outright conference title.
On Wednesday night, the Cyclones allowed No. 19 Baylor to hit six threes in six possessions as the Bears erased a second half deficit while ending Iowa State’s winning streaking in Hilton Coliseum. Saturday wasn’t much better, as Kansas State used a late 14-4 run and forced Iowa State to throw two terrible inbounds passes in a 70-69 win.
Iowa State had the ball with 18.4 seconds left and a 69-68 lead, but this happened:
After a foul by Kansas State, Iowa State overthrew an inbounds pass from the baseline, and they had to settle with a contested 30-footer from Naz Long to try and win the game.
I’m not going to sit here and try to tell you this isn’t a bad thing, because it is. Iowa State had a real chance to be the ones to end Kansas’ decade-long reign atop the league, and that’s gone now. They’ve hurt their NCAA tournament seeding. They’re losing to rivals. That’s never fun.
But is it really all that much of a surprise? Think about it: What do we know about this Iowa State team? They’re really talented offensively, they create matchup problems with Georges Niang, they shoot a ton of threes and love to play in transition. But we also know that there are major red flags with their ability to get stops, which is part of the reason that Jameel McKay has been moved into the starting lineup. Against both Baylor and Kansas State, it was that inability to get stops that cost them. It shouldn’t be all that surprising.
It’s also important to remember here that both of these losses were relatively fluky. How often are teams going to make six threes on six straight possessions? How many times have you ever seen the Cyclones butcher one out-of-bounds play, let alone two in a row?
There’s more to this, too. These two losses? They’ve come against a Baylor team is probably one of the 15 best in the country and a Kansas State team that just knocked off Kansas in the Octagon of Doom and has six top 50 wins this season.
Iowa State should probably be frustrated with the way this week played out, but keep it all in perspective.
The sky is not falling just yet.