AMES, Iowa — Iowa State survived nonconference play with just two losses, both coming in mid-November.
Things are about exponentially tougher for the Cyclones — and they didn’t look ready for that on Wednesday night.
Cameron Lard tied a career high with 15 points and Donovan Jackson had 12 as Iowa State sleepwalked past lowly Maryland-Eastern Shore 55-49 for its ninth consecutive victory.
Nick Weiler-Babb had seven points, 12 rebounds and six assists for the Cyclones (9-2). They had just seven players available after senior Hans Brase sprained his ankle in practice on Tuesday.
Seven guys proved to be barely enough against the Shore Hawks.
“No excuses for how we played and competed. That’s on all of us,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said.
Iowa State scored the first 10 points and, to its credit, never trailed. But the Cyclones were far from crisp early and Maryland-Eastern Shore (3-10) was even worse in the first half — shooting just 7 of 32 and falling behind 34-17.
Iowa State continued its sloppy play in the second half, finishing with 17 turnovers and allowing a 12-0 run that let the Hawks get within nine with just over six minutes left.
It was a troubling performance with Kansas State set to visit Ames for the Big 12 opener on Dec. 29.
“I don’t know what it was. Obviously it was a lackadaisical offense. No ball movement. No player movement,” Prohm said about his team’s second-half effort. “We just didn’t have a focus, and that’s on me. I’ve got to get them to do better in these situations.”
Ahmad Frost had 19 points to lead Maryland-Eastern Shore. The Shore Hawks, who shot just 29 percent, have dropped five straight.
THE BIG PICTURE
Iowa State: The often short-handed Cyclones showed impressive resilience in winning nine straight ahead of Big 12 play. But Iowa State’s schedule from here on out is absolutely brutal. Thirteen of the 19 games left on the Cyclones’ schedule will come against teams ranked in Monday’s Top 25.
Maryland-Eastern Shore: The Shore Hawks will have a chance to compete in the MEAC. Just one league team, North Carolina A&T, was at .500 entering Wednesday.
Maryland-Eastern Shore didn’t shoot a free throw in the first half despite taking 20 2-pointers. The Shore Hawks finished 6 of 7 from the line. … Solomon Young finished with seven points and tied a career high with 12 rebounds for Iowa State. … Lard scored in double figures for the third straight game and for the fifth time in his last six outings. … Four of Iowa State’s five starters played at least 32 minutes.
Iowa State was up just 49-40 and in desperate need of a basket when Jackson drained a corner 3. The Cyclones then forced a turnover and were never in serious danger again. Still, the fact that a MEAC school felt emboldened enough to foul in the final minute in hopes of a comeback said a lot about how bad Iowa State played.
HE SAID IT
“Even though it was a rough game, you can’t devalue winning,” Donovan Jackson said
Iowa State: Hosts the Wildcats to close out 2017. Prohm said Brase is questionable for that contest.
Maryland-Eastern Shore: Plays at Drake on Friday.