AMES — Iowa State has a solution to its one-game turnover outburst of 20 that helped lead to Saturday’s 79-70 loss at No. 13 Kansas State.
It’s found in three familiar little, but significant words: Simple. Easy. Plays.
“Whenever you have that many turnovers on the road, you can’t really win that way,” said Cyclone point guard Korie Lucious, whose team hopes to revert to its usual ball-secure ways in Wednesday’s 7 p.m. Big 12 game at Texas. “We haven’t really been turning the ball over like that.”
No, they haven’t.
ISU (16-7, 6-4) lost 20 turnovers for the first time since the season-opening win over Southern.
The Cyclones committed just 10 turnovers in each of their recent back-to-back wins over Baylor and Oklahoma — and despite Saturday’s hiccup in Manhattan, remain second in the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.23.
“Our biggest thing that we try to accomplish with our offense is create numbers,” said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg, whose team faces a struggling Longhorns team (10-13, 2-8) that should get a boost from the return of point guard Myck Kabongo. “When you can draw two defenders you’re going to have numbers and if you have the right spacing somebody’s going to get a great shot.
“When we do that well, I don’t know if there’s a tougher team to guard than our guys. That’s the big thing. Drawing that second defender, you’ve got to get that ball moving. For whatever reason, sometimes we don’t.”
That’s when the offense becomes stagnant — and even hitting 12 3-pointers can’t successfully offset it.
More risky plays replace the simple ones.
An uncharacteristic 20 turnovers.
“When you try to go off and take extra dribbles, that’s led to charges — I think we had three charges (at K-State) — instead of just making the simple play,” Hoiberg said.
Texas’ offense finally returns a top-level playmaker in Kabongo, who sat out the first 23 games because of an NCAA penalty.
He scored a team-high 13 points in the Longhorns’ win last season over the Cyclones at Austin and added a game-high five assists in his team’s Big 12 Tournament triumph.
“He’s a one-man fast break,” Hoiberg said. “As fast with the ball, I think, as anybody in our conference.”
Playing fast and safe can prove difficult for most teams, but ISU’s generally managed to achieve the right balance.“To play a perfect game is how you get wins,” Cyclone forward Georges Niang said. ‘We just have to eliminate our mistakes.”