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IOWA STATE 90, IOWA 75: THE MELTDOWN REMAINS THE SAME

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Iowa State torched the nets in Iowa City on Friday night. And it's a show that Iowa fans have become uncomfortably accustomed to at this point.

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

A pair of Adam Woodbury free throws with one minute to go in the first half tied the game at 33-all.  About twenty minutes of real time later -- roughly six minutes of game-time -- Iowa State led 59-35 and the game was dead and buried as a competitive contest.  Gabe Olaseni's layup with 14:23 to go in the second half was Iowa's first made field goal since a Peter Jok made three-pointer with 3:19  left in the first half.  Iowa went nine minutes of the game -- nearly a full quarter -- without a made field goal.  Meanwhile, in that same span Iowa State made 11 field goals, including 4 three-pointers.  Iowa State's shooting to start the second half was NBA Jam-levels of ridiculous: after a missed jumper by Georges Niang to start the half, they made their next ten shots.  During that stretch, Iowa had far more turnovers (5) than made field goals (2).

Game over.

The only thing more farcical than that entire stretch was the fact that any Iowa fan who was the least bit surprised by it is either delusional or has been living in a BTN-less cave for the last year.  Because this game was a textbook example of How Iowa Loses Games.  It was the Texas game from this year.  It was the Minnesota game last year.  The Indiana game last year.  The Michigan State game last year.  The Tennessee game last year.  The... well, you know.  It happens over and over and over and over again: Iowa's suffers defensive breakdown after defensive breakdown while the offenses shows no ability to stop the bleeding. It's an utterly toxic combination and one that's virtually impossible to overcome.

Iowa's defense had looked improved this year (bar that second half implosion against Texas), but it had no answers for Iowa State at the start of the second half tonight.  Granted, at least some part of Iowa State's torrid shooting was good fortune -- this year's "random dude who goes OFF against Iowa" was Abdel Nader, who entered the game with zero made 3s... and promptly went 4/6 from deep on his way 19 points off the bench.  (Meanwhile, Naz Long continues to treat games against Iowa like a Pop-A-Shot duel at the arcade; he had a game-high 21 points on 5/9 shooting from long range.)  But it would be a lot easier to just shrug this defensive showing off as "just" preposterously good shooting from Iowa State if we hadn't seen defensive breakdowns like this again and again.

As bad as the defense was -- and it was in full-on matador form during the stretch where Iowa State blew the game wide open -- the offense showed its same old frailties, too.  When Iowa isn't able to get easy buckets in transition, the offense all too frequently gets completely bogged down.  Iowa's half-court offense can be absolutely painful to watch.  The one advantage Iowa had entering the game -- pounding the ball down low and using their size advantage -- was only sparingly exploited.  Instead, Iowa hoisted a mind-numbing number of jumpers, most of which banged harmlessly off the rim.

It's hard to find any positives for Iowa in this game.  They did a very credible job of keeping Georges Niang in check in the first half, but it was a deeply ominous sign when Iowa State led by 5 at half despite getting just 2 points in the first half out of their two best players (2 from Niang and 0 from the suspended Bryce Dejean-Jones).  Aaron White was his usual solid self -- 18 points (on 6/11 shooting) and 6 rebounds.  And Peter Jok provided a decent spark off the bench -- 14 points (on 5/10 shooting), 6 rebounds, 3 assists.  Hopefully that performance is the start of a consistent run of form for Jok; lord knows the Iowa offense could use it.

Iowa has a week off now before their next game, a neutral-court game in Des Moines against a very dangerous-looking UNI team.  They'd better find some answers this week or they're going to be staring at an 0-2 record against in-state foes this year.  Unfortunately, I'd have a lot more faith in them finding those answers if they hadn't been searching for them for most of 2014.