The 2022-23 college basketball season has already been a good one for the Iowa State Cyclones. The team is second in Big 12, sitting only behind the fifth-ranked Texas Longhorns. With a 16-6 record, they find themselves ranked 11th as we head into the stretch run and the NCAA tournament.
All is not perfect, however. The Cyclones have been anything but great on the road this season. Of course, it is hard to focus on anything, but the home record given the club is 12-0 at Hilton Coliseum, making it one of the toughest places in college basketball to play this season.
Let’s take a closer look at what’s going on with the Cyclones on the road and what the rest of the season holds. How does the current team rank compare to the best Iowa State Cyclones of all time?
— Iowa State Men’s Basketball (@CycloneMBB) February 4, 2023
We all know about dominance and the perfect record at home. But the rest of the slate – the road slate – is where the question marks lay. Iowa State is just 4-6 on the road and it has proven to be the one flaw in what has otherwise been a tremendous season.
It began well enough with an 81-79 overtime victory over national power Villanova. That was short-lived, however. They were dominated on a trip to UConn and even further embarrassed when the team rolled into rival Iowa back on December 8th.
Conference road wins at Oklahoma and TCU were a nice way to rebound but their next stint, against second-ranked Kansas, was another loss. The road woes are interesting because they were letdowns in the wake of big home wins. They followed that loss in Kansas with a big win over Texas on their home floor.
Another loss to Oklahoma State on the road followed before a win over fifth-ranked Kansas State. It is a Jekyll and Hyde situation if there ever was one.
And things peaked as far as road woes with their last two games. The Cyclones had it handed to them by Missouri before dropping an overtime decision to Texas Tech. Of course, the minute they returned to their home floor, it resulted in a decisive win over powerhouse Kansas.
What is going on with the Cyclones when they leave the Coliseum?
— Iowa State Men’s Basketball (@CycloneMBB) February 7, 2023
What is happening on the road?
While it is obvious that something is just different when the team hits the road, the million-dollar question is “why are the Cyclones so much worse on the road?” Figuring that out could help propel them to a Big 12 championship and a top-10 ranking.
No team in a country has a greater disparity between their home and road performance than Iowa State. They are that strong Shiba/wimpy Shiba meme as a basketball team.
KU missed a lot of the good shots they got, and didn’t run good enough offense to get enough good shots.
— Dan Lucero (@danluceroshow) February 4, 2023
The first thing that jumps off the page about their road performances is their shooting percentage. Let’s make no mistake in assuming that Iowa State is an offensive dynamo because that is not their game. As a matter of fact, they have only done better than 50 percent shooting four times this season, all of which were wins.
It is noticeable, however, that their shooting percentage dropped noticeably in losses. They shot just 39.7% against Oklahoma State, 38.3% in the loss to Kansas, and a hair over 40% in losses to UConn and Iowa.
When the shots aren’t falling, it is tough for anyone to win. To put it simply it is difficult for any team to win when the shots aren’t falling. Perhaps they are being given a boost by the home crowd but finding a way to achieve consistency shooting on the road is one of the first steps to righting the road woes.
One of the things that has made Iowa State successful this season is their tenacity on the ball. For instance, in the clear victory over Kansas at home on February 4th, they forced a plethora of turnovers and kept the Jayhawks on their heels
In the road losses this season, turnovers are one of the key outliers. In losses on the road to Missouri and Texas Tech, they turned the ball over more times (18 against Missouri, 17 against Texas Tech) than they have in any other games.
They also are not forcing turnovers at the same rate while on the road. There is obviously something to be said about the tenacity in which they play while at home but that has to follow when they hit the road.
The road ahead
Things are only going to get tougher on the road for Iowa State to finish out the regular season. They still have trips to 12th-ranked Kansas State, conference-leading Texas, and a season-ending trip to 14th-ranked Baylor on the slate.
Playing more disciplined basketball is a good way to start things. Turning the ball over would certainly hurt their efforts far less than they already have. But the simple fact of the matter is that it is crunch time and the good teams find ways to win, be it at home or on the road.
— Iowa State Men’s Basketball (@CycloneMBB) February 6, 2023
Credits on Featured Image: Courtney Bay/OSU Athletics