TULSA, Okla. — One game does not define a 30-plus game season. But Iowa State's 62-59 loss at the hands of Ohio State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, which ended Iowa State's 2018-19 campaign, was awfully similar to the story of the year.
There were flashes of brilliance, like the Cyclones' 15-2 run which was capped off by a fastbreak dunk from freshman guard Tyrese Haliburton. There were also prolonged cold spells and a messy rotation that, just like much of this season, was different from game-to-game.
The only difference between the rest of the season and Friday night's loss, of course, is Iowa State is out of time to make those changes.
"I'm really proud of this group," said coach Steve Prohm after the loss. "We won 23 games, a Big 12 Tournament, won two out of three in Maui, we had several different lineups ... those guys did a great job of that."
Prohm said one of the issues was the offense's inability to snap out of a nearly 10-minute long stretch without a made field goal in the first half.
"We got back to being very stagnant," Prohm said. "We weren't attacking downhill, weren't getting the ball reversed. The ball wasn't moving side-to-side like we needed it to be."
But offense wasn't the only issue.
Defensively, Iowa State gave up 21 points and 12 rebounds to Ohio State sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson.
Three players — redshirt junior Michael Jacobson, redshirt sophomore Cameron Lard and freshman George Conditt IV — saw minutes against Wesson in the post, but the Cyclones couldn't find a consistent answer.
"They slowed the pace of the game down," Jacobson said. "They got some possessions back. It's just tough. In a one-and-done situation like this, the NCAA Tournament is kind of a crapshoot — the best teams aren't always gonna win."
The "crapshoot" proved to be true.
As a team, Iowa State shot 23-of-53 from the floor (43.4 percent) and 6-of-22 (27.3 percent) from beyond the 3-point line, well below its season averages.
As freshman guard Talen Horton-Tucker said, there wasn't just one thing wrong.
"It's heartbreaking," Horton-Tucker said. "We just wanted to win, man. All of us in here wanted to do that. We wanted to send the seniors out right."
The main source of scoring for the Cyclones, as it was all year, was redshirt senior guard Marial Shayok.
The first team All-Big 12 performer had a game-high 23 points on 9-of-17 shooting. He played all 40 minutes in his final collegiate game.
The offense as a whole rode the same wave it had all season — a wide, inconsistent variety of possessions which sometimes resulted in great passing and open shots, but also led to a mixed bag of shot selection and unforced errors.
"In a season that goes from November until basically the end of March, we had three weeks where we weren't very good," Prohm said. "We did a lot of good things.
"I think they got this program after a down year last year back where it needs to be ... we've got a lot of youth on this team, so hopefully they can learn from that."
From here, it's unclear where Iowa State will go. Three players — Shayok and fellow redshirt seniors Nick Weiler-Babb and Zoran Talley Jr. — have exhausted their eligibility. Various NBA mock drafts since the start of the season have listed Horton-Tucker, Haliburton and sophomore guard Lindell Wigginton in the NBA draft conversation.
For now, Iowa State will reflect on its 2018-19 season. Prohm said he will meet with the team Monday and have individual meetings with various players after that, depending on their status.
"I'm upset, but I'm also proud," Weiler-Babb said. "I'm proud of these guys and how far we came over this year from start to finish."