AMES, Iowa — An even-keeled Tyler Haws stood outside the locker room, crediting another high-major foe after BYU suffered what he called a "frustrating" 83-62 loss at Iowa State on Saturday afternoon.
He sang the praises of Cyclones guard Chris Babb, a "smart" defender who hounded him much the afternoon and "makes you earn everything you get." Haws mentioned that throughout the lineup, Iowa State had "big, strong dudes" who made for a physical afternoon.
Then he pointed out what will stick with him.
"I got open looks, though," Haws said. "I just wasn't able to knock them down."
It was that kind of day for the Cougars (5-3). Haws, who entered Saturday averaging 22.6 points, eighth best in the country, was held to a season-low nine points on 4-of-13 shooting from the field. Much of the credit should be given to Babb and Iowa State, BYU coach Dave Rose said, but he was still shaking his head over an atypical offensive performance.
The Cougars shot 37 percent for the game, 31 percent in the second half, and made just 4-of-20 from 3-point range. The Cyclones shot 48 percent.
"Our inability to make plays, positive plays on the offensive end (was a big difference)," Rose said. "I mean, we had so many chances — shots we normally make, offensive rebounds where we usually score."
BYU's struggles were illustrated in a two-minute stretch that opened the second half. After go-to forward Brandon Davies took just five shots in a first half that saw the Cyclones take a 48-37 lead, the Cougars made a concerted effort to go inside. On their first possession, Davies missed a clean look at a jump hook. On the next, he kicked to a wide-open Brock Zylstra, who clanked a 3-pointer from the left corner.
Two possessions later, Davies missed another point-blank shot and then a layup after getting his own rebound. He finished with a team-high 20 points, but every one was earned as he shot 7-of-17 from the field and went to the line for 10 free throws, making six.
Rose believed Iowa State's physical style "caused us some issues," but the problem was that the Cougars didn't compensate in other areas when the Cyclones ran several defenders at Davies.
"Brandon's really good at sharing the ball and finding the right guys, and tonight we'd get the ball to those guys, and we'd still come up empty," Rose said. "That was probably the biggest issue."
BYU's only other double-digit scorer was Matt Carlino, who had 12.
"There's a lot that went into it," added Davies. "They just outplayed us."
BYU found itself playing from behind most of the day in large part to an old familiar face: Will Clyburn. The Utah transfer, who averaged 20.5 points against BYU in a pair of Mountain West games two years ago, scored a career-high 32 points and was "just really good," Rose said.
"He's a great player," Davies said. "He's a great shooter, and he proved he can play with the best of them. We knew he had all the potential in the world. He's a capable shooter and can create well for his teammates."
Clyburn had 22 points in the first half, as Iowa State (5-2) grabbed a 25-24 lead at the 9:16 mark and later closed the half on an 8-0 run to take an 11-point lead into the break.
The Cyclones — whose two losses both came to ranked squads in Cincinnati and UNLV — scored the first four points out of the break to take a 52-37 lead, and the Cougars never got any closer than 12 points the rest of the way.
"At a certain part of the game, they kind of broke us," Haws said. "Guys stopped playing hard, which is very frustrating. I feel like this is a group of fighters and a group that doesn't give up. It's something we've got to get better at."
Asked if he had any big-picture concerns stemming from the loss, Rose replied, "We're a group that's still learning," and added that the "beauty of coaching" is dealing with short-term and long-term concerns. He said Iowa State is a really good team that's going to win a lot of games.
"You go through ups and downs in a season," Haws said. "I still feel this group of guys has the potential to do some great things, and we've got to learn from it and keep getting better. We can't hang our heads."
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