The Cyclones ended the Phil Knight Invitational in less than ideal fashion, losing Sunday’s championship game to No. 20 Connecticut 71-53.
Iowa State went 48-19, shooting poorly and not having its best day defensively.
Through the struggles, the Cyclones still put together a strong tournament with victories over Villanova and No. 1 North Carolina. Here are the three big takeaways.
Slowly out of the gate
Whether it was the fatigue of playing a third game in four days, players still clinging to their thoughts Victory on Friday against No. 1 North Carolina or just a lack of execution, things didn’t go for the Iowa State offense in the first half.
Shooting only 12-28 in the first half and only 1-3 on three-point attempts, shooting was a big problem to open the game. Percentages aside, there wasn’t a player who showed the ability to step up and score amid droughts.
Defensively it was about fouls. 14 team fouls resulted in Connecticut shooting 15-20 from the free throw line while the Cyclones attempted only three.
Luckily for the Cyclones, they came through the first half down just 38-28 with the game still within reach.
Lipsey looks comfortable
Tamin Lipsey has performed well in the point guard role all season, showing off his playmaking skills and tiresome defense.
Lipsey came into the game averaging over four assists but hadn’t really demonstrated his shooting ability, averaging just four points.
That was a different story in this case, as Lipsey had 12 points on 6-9 shooting, along with three assists and two steals.
Lipsey will play a major role in how the season goes for Iowa State, and if he can add consistent goals to his bag, the team will move forward in solid form.
A total success
Despite losing the title game, the Phil Knight Invitational was a success story for Iowa State.
An extra time win over Villanova who struggled early in the season but always seems to be improving as the season progresses.
The highlight win over Noth Carolina Noth Carolina, who lost again to Alabama on Sunday but are still among the favorites to win a national championship.
Those two wins will give the Cyclone résumé a massive boost.
Obviously not the result the Cyclones were hoping for, but the experience gained in uncovering your weaknesses can sometimes be just as valuable. Fans saw this last season when the Cyclones struggled in Big 12 play and still ended up making it to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament.
Next up for the Cyclones is a duel with North Dakota on Wednesday at the Hilton Coliseum.