mens basketball vs northern Illinois

Head Coach Steve Prohm calls out plays during Iowa State’s 70-52 victory over Northern Illinois at Hilton Coliseum on Nov. 12.

Arguably, Iowa State men's basketball had its best decade in the 2010s. Four Big 12 postseason championships, went to the Sweet 16 twice, won over 20 games in all but two years and only had one losing season.

Yet, what most people are going to remember, think about, scream at and shake their head at, was the final day of the 2010s.

One-win Florida A&M walked into one of loudest arenas in Division I and earned win number two, its first over a power-five program in school history, a shocking 70-68 triumph over Iowa State.

A dose of reality

Now that everyone has rung in the new year, had their drinks and posted rants on Twitter, take a deep breath.

This loss, while bad, changes only one thing.

Iowa State — with a healthy Tyrese Haliburton — can make some noise in the Big 12. The Cyclones can go eight-to-nine deep, the depth is there. Rasir Bolton may have finally gotten out of his shooting slump with a career-high 29 points and Terrence Lewis provided a good short term spark.

Losing to Ken Pomery's 324th best team will have long term affects.

If the Cyclones are treading at .500 or on the bubble come Selection Sunday, this loss will keep them out of the NCAA Tournament. It's that simple.

If Iowa State runs through the conference and finishes in the top-three, makes it to the championship game in Kansas City, this loss means nothing.

Steve Prohm isn't getting fired. Haliburton will be back on Saturday. The shooting can only improve.

The case can be made Tuesday's loss is the worst in Cyclones history. The only direction they can go from here is up, and that starts this weekend on the road against TCU.

mens basketball

Tyrese Haliburton drives the hoop during the Iowa State basketball game against UMKC on Dec. 4.

Haliburton makes this team go

Losing your leading scorer in any situation is tough. Haliburton was held out due to a sprained left wrist, which on the surface makes a lot of sense.

Playing a team whose only win was against Seattle, the other scholarship players should be able to beat Florida A&M, especially up 13 at one point and nine at half, right?

Evidently not.

Outside of a 17-2 scoring run early in the first half, Iowa State's offense never had flow, didn't know who to go to for stretches, didn't make bunnies at the rim and couldn't get that second scoring run to put the game out of reach.

"We were stagnant on offense, the switching they did bothered us, but our pace was terrible," Prohm said afterwards. ...It's on me, I won't point fingers. I'm the head coach, I own it."

Even when the game was close in the second half, Prohm never thought about putting in the sophomore guard and potential NBA lottery pick.

"Once we decided not to play him, I wasn’t going to play him," Prohm said. "We were doing what we thought was in the best interest of his health."

The evidence is there: Having Haliburton on the court makes Iowa State an NCAA Tournament team. Not having him on the court, well, you lose to a team from the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference.

Tale of two defensive halves

The Cyclones used full court presses and traps a bit more than usual on Tuesday and it worked.

For the first half.

They held Florida A&M to 10 made field goals in the opening 20 minutes and the Rattlers didn't help themselves either, going 2-for-6 from the charity stripe.

Adjustments were made in the second half and the difference is eye-popping.

Florida A&M shot 57.6 percent from the field in the second half (19-33) and hit its free throws (6-9). Once the game was close midway through, the Rattlers had an answer each time Iowa State tried to take the lead or trim into its deficit.

"They went through a stretch where they had six uncontested shots," Prohm said. "Give them credit, we gave them great confidence. Defensively in the second half, they can't shoot over 60 percent from the field. You got to defend, you got to rebound,"

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