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FILM SESSION: The defense adjustment that sparked Iowa State’s comeback

Georges Niang, Abdel Nader

Iowa State forward Georges Niang (31) celebrates with teammate Abdel Nader (2) at the end of an NCAA college basketball game against Kansas, Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 85-72. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)


Last night, No. 14 Iowa State overcame a horrid start and erased an 10-point deficit to knock off No. 4 Kansas in Hilton Coliseum, 85-72.

The final score doesn’t really do justice to how well Kansas played -- and how poor Iowa State looked -- through the first 24 minutes or so, as a 43-22 surge to close a game is a great way to cover-up the flaws of the first 24 minutes.

In my column after the game last night, I mentioned that Iowa State made some defensive changes that helped spark their comeback and I figured today I’d cut some video to show exactly what I was talking about.

In the first half, Kansas did just about whatever they wanted offensively. It started with their ball-screen actions, which was a nightmare for Iowa State to try and defend:

The other part of it was that the Cyclones allowed Kansas to whip the ball around the floor offensively, moving their defense and creating closeout opportunities that caught Iowa State’s help-side out of position. Here are a few of the better examples of Kansas offense, which is about as pretty as basketball can get:

The difference in the second half was that the Cyclones were able to limit how easily Kansas was able to reverse the ball while changing their coverages of ball-screens.

The biggest difference was what the man defending the screener would do. In high-ball screen actions (the first example in the video below), that defender would hedge harder, preventing the dribbler from getting a head of steam going towards the rim. In side-ball screens (the third example in the video) the man guarding the ball would ice the screen -- meaning jump above it and force the dribbler to go towards the baseline instead of the middle of the floor -- and the man defending the screener would attack the dribbler.

Since Kansas was unable to get any ball-reversals, when their guards were able to get into the lane, they dribbled straight into help-side defense.

Even my five-month old son can see the difference in what the Kansas offense looked like: