AMES, Iowa-The North Carolina A&T men's basketball team has been searching to find some rhythm offensively. They were able to put together a solid second half against Iowa State on Tuesday evening at the Hilton Coliseum, but it wasn't enough to overcome a slow start as the Cyclones handed the Aggies an 86-57 loss.
But A&T head coach Cy Alexander was hopeful that the Aggies turned a corner, after totaling 40 points with 42 percent shooting in the second half, compared to 17 points in the first.
"Hopefully we can build on that," Alexander said. "We were moving the ball a lot better, we were moving ourselves, our spacing was better. [Jean] Louisme got going a little bit, Shaun Stewart got going a little bit. So, if I take anything from this, it's that I'm hoping we've come out of this shooting slump."
The Aggies, who shot 15 percent in their last game at No. 24 Cincinnati, struggled to start the game on Tuesday.
The Aggies (1-4) went 0-for-11 in the first five minutes, getting their first two points from Bruce Beckford at the free throw line. A 3-pointer by junior Jeremy Underwood made it a 13-5 game with just over 12 minutes left to snap an 0-for-14 streak for the Aggies. A jumper from Beckford made it a 17-12 game, the closest the Aggies got in the first half. Moments later, a technical was called on junior Lamont Middleton, and that started a 19-3 run for the Cyclones to close out the half with a 38-17 advantage.
Alexander said that play was the turning point for the Aggies (1-4), switching the momentum in favor of the Cyclones (4-0).
"This is the second game in a row that we've gotten a technical foul. We cannot get technical fouls. We've got to be more mentally disciplined than that," he said. "We played hard the first half. It was a four, five point game. When we get a technical foul, that takes away the two [free throw] points that we got, then they get two points and that spurs a 19-3 run."
The Cyclones opened up the second half with a quartet of threes to take a 52-25 lead with 15:15 left. With 11:02 remaining, Iowa State built up a 64-35 lead. The Aggies worked to chip away at the lead, coming on strong with 42 percent shooting. Senior Jean Louisme hit some big three pointers to help cut the lead, scoring nine of his 11 points in the second half to lead A&T. Freshman Shaun Stewart recorded all seven of his points in the second half as well.
But even with the Aggies shooting better, they could not keep up with the Cyclones, who recorded eight 3-pointers and shot 49 percent to add to their cushion.
The Aggies will travel to Las Vegas to continue competition in the Global Sports Classic on Wednesday. The Aggies will face Campbell at 12:30 p.m., on Thursday. A&T will then face either Jacksonville State or Northern Arizona on Friday, Nov. 24.
"I'm just hoping that dropping down to the mid-major level as we go into Vegas, we'll be able to build on what we did in the second half from an offensive standpoint, and try to get a game plan together to compete with Campbell," Alexander said.