Published December 11, 2012
AMES, Iowa – Korie Lucious was supposed to bring stability to Iowa State after transferring from Michigan State.
Instead, the senior point guard has been as inconsistent as any player on Iowa State's roster this season. And so has his team.
Lucious has committed 41 turnovers in 10 games, more than any other player from a major-conference school. Though Lucious turned it over just once in Sunday's easy win over Nebraska-Omaha, the lasting image of his weekend came Friday night at Iowa.
Lucious committed seven turnovers — six more than his freshman counterpart, Iowa's Anthony Clemmons — in an 80-71 loss.
Third-year coach Fred Hoiberg has put control of his offense in the hands of Lucious and he isn't about to bail on him now.
"I'm confident in Korie. We weren't ourselves in that game over in Iowa City," Hoiberg said. "You learn from those types of things. It's a painful lesson to learn."
Lucious has never had as much control of a team as he has this season with the Cyclones (7-3), who face Drake on Saturday as part of the Big Four Classic in Des Moines.
He's still adjusting to all that responsibility.
Lucious was mostly a key reserve for Michigan State's back-to-back Final Four teams in 2009 and 2010, although he nailed the game-winning basket in the second round against Maryland in '09 and started the next three games after Kalin Lucas ruptured his Achilles tendon. After being suspended by the Spartans in January 2011, Lucious wasn't able to do anything but practice for nearly two years.
His first season as a full-time starter has been more up and down than many expected.
Lucious is shooting only 34 percent from the field and has just nine assists against 15 turnovers in Iowa State's three losses. His assist-to-turnover ratio of roughly 1.3-to-1 is far below where the Cyclones want it to be.
There are signs of progress after a head-scratching November.
Lucious is scoring more, averaging 13 points per game in his last four outings. He also has dished out 29 in that time, and even in losing at Iowa he scored 14 points with seven assists.
Hoiberg also noticed improvement from Lucious in the win over Nebraska-Omaha, which came after a practice that focused on correcting what went wrong with the Hawkeyes. Lucious had nine points, four assists and just one turnover in 26 easy minutes against the overmatched Mavericks.
"I think he took a big step in the right direction (Sunday). And I blame myself for some of the things that happened in the Iowa game, for not getting us into different sets," Hoiberg said. "Our flow was much better. Our spacing was much better. Our just overall purpose, in getting to our spots, was a lot better."
Lucious is hardly the only new piece for the Cyclones, who've again shuffled their roster extensively.
Fellow transfer Will Clyburn is Iowa State's leading scorer at 14 points per game, and had been mostly exceptional before the Hawkeyes held him scoreless. Hoiberg also shuffled the lineup after the loss at Iowa, starting freshman Georges Niang and sophomore Percy Gibson in place of senior Anthony Booker and junior Melvin Ejim.
Iowa State will likely tinker with its rotation ahead of the Big 12 season, which starts at Kansas in just under a month.
But the Cyclones are counting on Lucious to run the offense regardless of who's on the court with him.
"I definitely think that, for a lot of the new guys coming in, it was a learning experience at the beginning of the season," Ejim said. "Korie is getting more comfortable now and he's playing better basketball. And that's just because he knows who he's playing with. He knows where guys are going to be. He knows the offense."
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