Cyclones defense keys 68-59 win over Cincinnati

The Bearcats faced their second consecutive top ten opponent on Tuesday night as 10th-ranked Iowa State visited Fifth Third Arena. 

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

The game marked the first time in Fifth Third Arena history that the Bearcats hosted top ten teams in consecutive games. 

Iowa State presented many challenges, specifically on the defensive end.

The Cyclones rank seventh nationally in scoring defense (62.1), fifth in steals per game (10.8), third in turnovers forced per game (17.83), and third in Kenpom's defensive efficiency. Iowa State also entered Tuesday night ranked second in the Big 12 with a 6.91 turnover margin.

For the Bearcats to pick up a win, they were going to have to take care of the ball and find a way to handle Iowa State's defensive pressure.

The first half would prove to be one of Cincinnati's worst halves of the season, in terms of taking care of the basketball.

UC had six turnovers at the 15:09 mark of the first half but trailed by just two points due to Iowa State also struggling offensively. The Cyclones went through a three minute 33 second scoring drought before taking an 8-5 lead with 13:09 left in the first half.

Jizzle James tied the score at eight on a made three-pointer but the Bearcats had more turnovers than points at the under twelve media stop.

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

With 11:49 remaining in the first half, Cincinnati had 9 turnovers and had just six field goal attempts as they trailed 10-8. 

Jizzle James connected on his second 3-pointer of the half at the 10:17 mark to give UC a 13-12 lead. It was the third consecutive made field goal for the Bearcats. 

Iowa State would match the Bearcats, making their next three field goal attempts to take a 19-17 lead with 7:02 remaining in the first half.

Just before the media timeout, Cincinnati was called for their third shot-clock violation of the half as CJ Fredrick's 3-pointer was released just after the clock hit zero.

Prior to Keshon Gilbert giving the Cyclones a 19-17 lead, Tamin Lipsey scored nine straight for Iowa State over a three minute, 50 second span. 

Hason Ward extended the ISU lead to 23-18 with 6:09 left in the half but Dan Skillings answered with a second chance lay-up off a Reynolds miss to jump start a 6-0 run over the next 1:59.

Two Simas Lukosius free throws gave the Bearcats a 24-23 lead with 4:19 remaining in the first half.

UC would miss six of their final seven field goal attempts of the half as the Cyclones answered with an 11-0 run over the next 2:54, making 5-of-7 field goal attempts to take a 34-26 halftime lead. 

Day Day Thomas' lay up with :34 seconds remaining in the half ended a scoring drought that lasted 3:54.

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

Cincinnati finished the first half with 14 turnovers as Iowa State converted those miscues in to 14 points and owned the paint, outscoring UC 20-8. 

"Their ball pressure is significant. What they do is they pressure the ball and make you put your head down and you drive into difficult places," Miller said following the game. 

How bad were the Bearcats at taking care of the ball? They had a turnover on 43.8 percent of their first half possessions. 

The second half would start much like the first half ended.

Cincinnati turned the ball over twice on their first three possessions as Iowa State opened the half on a 7-0 run to extend their lead to 41-26 at the 18:27 mark.

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

With 16 minutes remaining in the game, Cincinnati had six second half turnovers and 20 for the game. Iowa State led by 13, 41-28, despite not scoring for two minutes 30 seconds following their 7-0 run to open the half. 

Cincinnati responded with a 6-0 run to cut the ISU lead to 10, 46-36, with 13:12 left to play but the Cyclones scored on back-to-back possessions to push the lead back to 14, 50-36 with 12:22 left in the game. 

With 10:54 remaining, Iowa State led 52-39 and had 15 more shot attempts than UC, due in large part to 22 Cincinnati turnovers. 

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

Dan Skillings' three with 7:38 left to play cut the Iowa State lead to 10, 57-47. 

Following Skillings' three, UC would be held without a field goal over the next 2:37 as Iowa State extended their lead to 59-47 on a Curtis Jones floater in the lane. 

Robert Jones pushed the Iowa State lead to 61-47 with 4:41 remaining in the game, following a James turnover on a charge call. 

A Simas Lukosius three pointer cut the Iowa State lead to seven, 63-56, with 1:22 left to play but the late push would not be enough as Iowa State walked off the Fifth Third Arena floor with a 68-59 win.

"Defensively, they have a big-time reputation and it was obvious that they're a terrific defensive team and I always give credit there first. They did the things to come in and win on the road and make it very difficult for us," Said Miller. 

Iowa State improves to 19-5, 8-3 in Big 12 play, while Cincinnati falls to 15-9, 4-7 in Big 12 play.

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

Key Stats, Numbers, and Notes:

25: Iowa State forced the Bearcats in to 25 turnovers and converted those in to 26 points. Cincinnati was able to force 11 turnovers but were only able to turn those in to 15 points.

The Cyclones finished with 12 steals, as Tamin Lipsey led the team with three. 

"We take a lot of pride in guarding the basketball and pressuring the ball and trying to cause teams to play at a speed, a little faster maybe, than normal," Iowa State's TJ Otzelberger told reporters following the game. " More than anything, that's what we do. That's our identity. So regardless of who we're playing that's what we take pride in. Pressuring the basketball is the top priority in our program on a daily basis."

Points in the Paint: 

Iowa State outscored Cincinnati 36-14 in points in the paint...despite being out-rebounded 38-24. UC pulled down 15 offensive rebounds but were only able to convert those second chance opportunities in to eight points. 

Iowa State Head Coach Tj Otzelberger mentioned being aggressive around the rim was an emphasis at both ends for his team against the Bearcats.

" They're very physical defensively and they've got great length. They're sound on their rotations, very well coached. We knew it was going to be hard to get into the paint and it was a huge point of emphasis for us that we got to fight like heck and have patience to get in there by any means possible. They're so physical, if you're not able to get in the paint you can't really get their defense distorted."

Guards lead the way

Jizzle James led the Bearcats with 16 points. Other double figure scorers included Simas Lukosius finished with 15 points, and Dan Skillings with 13 points , 10 rebounds. Outside of those three, the Bearcats really struggled to score. Aziz Bandaogo, Jamille Reynolds, and Vik Lakhin combined for six points, with Reynolds having five of those. John Newman was limited to just two points on two free throws. 



Shooting Numbers

On a positive note, UC finished 9-of-23 (39.1 percent) from 3-point range while limiting Iowa State to just 5-of-18 (27.8 percent).

The Bearcats struggled to defend the paint all game which contributed to Iowa State finishing 28-of-59 from the field for 48 percent. UC converted 19-of-50 field goal attempts for 38 percent.

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

Iowa State Balance

Defensively, Cincinnati did a good job limiting ISU freshman Milan Momcilovic to just two points. Tamin Lipsey and Curtis Jones both led the Cyclones with 15 points, followed by Keshon Gilbert and Robert Jones with 12, each. 

Final Thoughts:

The loss is particularly frustrating for Cincinnati fans because the majority of the UC turnovers were unforced and a result of trying to force things and dribbling in to double teams, while not moving the ball to get the ISU defense out of position. ISU did a great job using the double team out on the perimeter to force a bad pass as the Cincinnati guards or bigs panicked. As physical as Houston was on Saturday, Cincinnati did not play with the same composure as we saw against the Cougars when the Bearcats turned the ball over just eight times. 

 With seven regular season games remaining, Cincinnati is going to have to start stringing some wins together to keep their at-large bid tournament hopes alive. At UCF on Saturday and Oklahoma State next Wednesday are starting to look like must wins.

Following the game, Wes Miller put the blame on himself and his staff for not having his team more prepared:

"We must do a better job of getting our team more prepared for that. We tried to simulate that in practice and didn't do a good enough job again, we must look in the mirror as coaches and not point fingers. We have great kids, and I believe in staying with them. We're going to figure it out. This team is going to figure it out."

Post game Videos:




Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published