TULSA, Okla. — Matt Mooney knows the difference between winning and losing against Iowa State.

A senior guard from Big 12 opponent Texas Tech, Mooney scored eight points in a 68-64 loss to the Cyclones on Jan. 16. Then in the rematch March 9, Mooney had 13 points in an 80-73 win for the Red Raiders that handed Iowa State a third straight loss to close the regular season.

What are the lessons learned from those games, which are directly applicable to Ohio State on Friday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament?

“Our first game, we had too many turnovers and they scored almost every single time,” Mooney said inside the Texas Tech locker room at the BOK Center on Thursday afternoon. “You take a bad shot or turn it over or get your shot blocked, they’re going to come down and score. It’s real important to take good shots, take care of the ball against them because they’re fast, they’ve got a lot of guys who can handle it, a lot of guys who can shoot it, they move the ball well and they’re really well-coached.”

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It’s something Ohio State has taken note of. Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann has described the Cyclones as perhaps the most explosive offensive team they will face all season, which will put some more onus on the likes of versatile defenders Andre Wesson and Musa Jallow.

However, limiting transition opportunities is only one part of trying to contain the Iowa State offense. In the first game against the Cyclones, Texas Tech's Davide Moretti finished with 10 points in 38 minutes of playing time. He doubled that to 20 points in the rematch, a game in which fellow sophomore guard Jarrett Culver went off for 31.

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Sometimes, you need a hefty dose of offense to beat a good offense, too. But Moretti echoed Mooney’s thoughts on the difference between the two games.

“The first time we played them, we didn’t really show up to play,” he said. “We had too many mistakes. We let them run in transition, something they really like. They want to play fast and control the tempo of the game. We flipped it in the second game. We tried to control the game and we responded to every single talented play they had.”

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Nationally, Iowa State ranks No. 154 in defensive turnover percentage. In eight of their pinal 18 games, the Cyclones have forced only single-digit turnovers.

“They’ve got some good individual defenders but they’re not the type of team that that’s their DNA to pressure and get up in you,” Mooney said. “More contain. But they’ve got guys that are very long. Haliburton gets a lot of steals, but that’s not really what they’re known for, so you’ve just got to be smart and take care of it.”

 

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy