Maybe Iowa State could actually blame its 41-point performance in the NCAA Tournament, where it shot just 23% from the field, on the rims.
The NCAA released a statement during the Cyclones’ opening-round game against Pittsburgh that revealed Iowa State asked Greensboro Coliseum building personnel to look at their basket pregame and “check if the rim was level” — resulting in what the NCAA labeled a “minor adjustment.”
“We offered them additional warmup time but they declined,” the NCAA’s statement continued.
Then, the Cyclones proceeded to shoot 29% on that basket in the opening half — though senior forward Tre King tried downplaying its effect postgame.
“Definitely wasn’t a factor,” King told reporters. “One thing that we’ve always talked about is how adversity’s always coming, and, you know, how we deal with it. That was just one of those things that wasn’t for us in the beginning and we knew that, and we paid it no mind and we just knew that we had to come out and play even harder.”
According to a clip tweeted from the Coliseum, Pittsburgh players appeared to warm up as normal while a ladder was stationed underneath Iowa State’s basket.
But the Cyclones actually shot worse in the second half at the other end of the court, making just 5-of-29 field-goal attempts across the final 20 minutes.
Iowa State didn’t have one of the country’s top offenses this season, but it still averaged 67.6 points per game during the regular season — only shooting below 40% from the field four times, and never dipping beneath 30%.
But against the Panthers, Iowa State didn’t connect on its first basket until 9:55 remained in the opening half, when Jaren Holmes connected on a layup.
The Cyclones closed their deficit to seven points by halftime, but then they managed just 18 points total for the rest of the game.
Overall, Iowa State shot 23% from the field, 2-for-21 on 3-pointers and finished with the second-fewest points in the program’s history for an NCAA Tournament game, according to The Gazette.
When asked about the impact of the pregame pause — and the rim adjustment – on his team, though, Iowa State head coach T.J. Otzelberger said, “I don’t know.”
“I can’t speak for our guys,” Otzelberger said. “I wasn’t sure what all happened. By the time I came out, they were checking it, and obviously, there was a delay.
“So I’d like to think our guys have enough mental toughness. We’ve been in a lot of big games and a lot of tough environments that that wouldn’t impact us, but I can’t speak for them exactly on that and how it affected them mentally.”
Pittsburgh, a No. 11 seed, advanced to face No. 3-seed Xavier in the Round of 32 on Sunday.