Ben Visser, correspondent
AMES — The Iowa State men’s basketball team has had one problem plague it for the majority of the season.
That problem has been turnovers — something the Cyclones haven’t been accustomed to in recent years with the likes of Monte Morris and Tyrese Haliburton running the show.
Saturday at 3 p.m., Iowa State (2-6, 0-4 Big 12) hosts No. 18 Texas Tech (9-3, 2-2) at Hilton Coliseum (ESPN2).
The Red Raiders are in the top five when it comes to turnovers created. Opponents average an eye-popping 18.7 turnovers when facing Texas Tech.
“You have to play off two feet really well, otherwise you’re going to get charges called against you, you have to be strong with the ball, you have to meet passes, we have to keep good spacing — can’t run to the ball,” Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm said. “When you have advantages, you really have to attack and push the pace. Being shot ready and not letting their pressure speed you up, keeping good spacing and don’t run to the ball, let the ball find you. Those are all little things.
“I think we know how we want to attack them, we just have to be efficient in the way we do it.”
The Cyclones did a good job of taking care of the ball in their 78-72 loss to No. 4 Texas on Tuesday.
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“To only have eight turnovers against Texas — a team with great length, extends their defense, presses at times — was huge,” Prohm said.
Now, the Cyclones want to build on that.
It starts with point guard Rasir Bolton. Iowa State’s leader in assist-to-turnover ratio at nearly 2.0, Bolton had five of Iowa State’s eight turnovers against Texas.
Part of the turnovers is him having the ball in his hands more than any other player. And recently, he’s gotten it even more.
In the past, when Iowa State would run in transition, the player who got the rebound, would take the ball up the floor. When Iowa State’s done that this season, it’s led to a relatively high number of turnovers.
To combat that, Prohm wants the ball in Bolton’s hands before starting the break.
Bolton believes a good amount of the team’s turnovers can be attributed to a young team still getting to know each other.
“It’s really about knowing where guys are at and where they’re going to making the right pass,” Bolton said. “Communication would probably be the best thing for it.”
The Cyclones have played three top-10 teams down the wire in the last few weeks.
Now they get a shot at a good Texas Tech team that forces turnovers as well as anyone in the country.
“If you look at the turnovers, that’s been our Achilles heel,” Prohm said. “We were averaging 20 turnovers per game before Texas. We have to make sure we get a shot every time down and not let them get shot off their defense.”
Ben Visser, correspondent