By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com Publisher Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams
Conference play? Bring it.
That’s the message that Fred Hoiberg’s Cyclones sent to the Big 12 in a 77-71 win over the Texas Longhorns on Wednesday night in front of a jam-packed crowd at Hilton Coliseum.
Iowa State took a 44-34 lead into halftime only to watch the Longhorns fire off a 10-0 run to start the second. In November, that is when the Cyclones would have closed up shop and called it a night.
“We knew that they were going to go on a run,” said junior Chris Babb, who led Iowa State with 17 points. “We went into the locker room at halftime and talked about what we needed to do. They came out and hit us. They went on a little run.”
The Cyclones responded by going on a 14-3 run of their own over the next five minutes of play.
“I’m proud of the team. I’m proud of the fact that down the stretch, we believed in ourselves,” said Royce White. “We stood up. We stayed together and knew that we could beat this team. They’re a good team. We stayed solid and we beat them. It feels good.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Chris Babb – The slump has been busted. After going 9-for-44 from 3-point range dating back to the Northern Iowa game (seven games), junior Chris Babb re-found his stroke and went 5-for-9 from long range against one of the best defensive teams in the Big 12.
“That was a great feeling to get out of that slump," said Babb. “I tried to stay as confident as I can. Everybody stayed positive in me, which held my confidence. I knew that I was going to cut out of it eventually. It was a lot of preparation, staying in the gym and getting a lot of shots up. It paid off.”
Other Cyclones were also worthy of Player of the Game honors, but Babb’s emergence as a scorer was something that Iowa State had to have in order to win the Big 12. Now comes the hard part. That’s repeating it on the road in league play. Iowa State will travel to Texas A&M on Saturday.
The transfers – Iowa State’s four transfers that you read so much about over the last year scored 55 of Iowa State’s 77 points against Texas. The most surprising performance of the four came from junior Anthony Booker, who scored in double-figures (11) for the second game in a row. Booker converted on three 3-point attempts in only 15 minutes of play to record his season-high in points. Along with Babb’s 17, Royce White scored 14 points in addition to Chris Allen’s 13.
Second half rebounding – At one point early in the second half, Texas was out-rebounding the Cyclones 23-8. The Longhorns had a 19-8 edge on the glass in the first half, but Iowa State’s 9-of-12 3-point shooting equaled a lot of things out.
The Cyclones did the unthinkable and actually out-rebounded Texas 21-19 in second period. That effort might have won them the game too.
Hilton Coliseum – Wednesday night was old school night in Hilton Coliseum. Fans were actually cheering. Loud. Students weren’t in attendance but you wouldn’t have known. Hilton was hopping all night long. It’s amazing what a winning team does for crowd energy…
(ONLY) TWO DOWN
Free throw shooting – This is starting to become a significant issue for the Cyclones. After going 15-of-26 from the charity stripe in last Saturday’s two-point win over Mississippi Valley State, Iowa State left 16 points on the board in Wednesday night’s win, going only 21-for-37 from the free throw line vs. the Longhorns. That’s a measly 56.8 percent.
Royce White went to the line 13 times in the second half. He only made five of them.
As a team, Iowa State has now dipped down to a 69 percent mark from the free throw line on the season.
Officiating – I’m not usually one to pick on officials, but calling 54 fouls in one game is a tad bit ridiculous don’t you think?
— Iowa State beat Texas. Texas beat Temple. Temple beat Duke. Just sayin’…
— Royce White didn’t look ill on Wednesday, but the big man still isn’t 100 percent after fighting off a nasty case of the stomach flu that forced him to miss most of last Saturday’s date with Mississippi Valley State.
“I was still pretty winded at some points," said White. "I was bending over and grabbing my knees and I’m usually pretty well conditioned. I think this will be the last couple of days that I am tired or fatigued from it.”
— The win snapped Iowa State’s four-game losing streak in Big 12 openers. It also snapped a seven-game losing streak against Texas that dated all the way back to February of 2005.
— With the 10 3-pointers that Iowa State hit on Wednesday night, it marked the seventh time this season that the Cyclones have made 10 or more threes in a game.
— Anthony Booker went 3-for-3 from 3-point range in the win. Before Wednesday, Booker only had five 3-pointers to his name in his career.
— Scott Christopherson did NOT make a 3-point shot in the win. That’s only the second time in his last 48 games that Christopherson didn’t make a shot from long range.