RECAP: Cyclones fade in OT at Baylor

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It took Georges Niang one minute and nine seconds to pass his former coach, Fred Hoiberg, for third on ISU’s all-time leading scorers’ list.

 Sorting out the winner of Tuesday’s grueling Big 12 game between the No. 13 Cyclones and No. 25 Baylor would take almost 44 minutes longer — another excruciating time frame for ISU’s players, coaches and fans alike. 

 ISU’s list of almost-heroes ran three-deep, but couldn’t prevent the Bears from pulling away late in overtime to win, 100-91, at Waco, Texas.

“A lot of thoughts go through my mind,” Niang said on the Cyclone Radio Network after the game. “I really wish we had better execution down the stretch and that comes from us players, nothing to do with the coach at all.”

 Monté Morris nearly hit a game-winner at the end of regulation, but his putback in the paint came a fraction of a second after the buzzer sounded and Baylor (19-7, 8-5) beat the Cyclones (18-8, 7-6) for the fourth straight meeting.

 Abdel Nader led the Cyclones (18-8, 7-6) with a career high-tying 26 points, including five 3-pointers. Niang — who now has 2,014 career points to Hoiberg’s 1,993 — added 24 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Morris chipped in 20 points and 11 assists.

 None of the heroics were enough to fully extinguish ISU’s ultra-slim hopes of surging back into regular season title contention. Johnathan Motley again led the Bears with a career high 27 points — just as he did in last month’s upset in Ames.

 The 6-9 sophomore’s tip-in 27 seconds into overtime put Baylor ahead for good, but Nader, who’s been battling an ankle injury, pulled the Cyclones within two with 2:07 left with a 3-ball.

 Ishmail Wainwright answered immediately for the Bears, drilling his third 3-pointer (he has 17 total this season) before his teammates closed out the win by going 6-of-6 from the line in the final moments.

 “Baylor did a great job of really forcing it in the post and their guys hit tough jump hooks and tough jump shots,” Niang said.

 The Cyclones fell to sixth place in the Big 12 standings, one game back of Baylor and Texas.

 What now? Play on. Regroup. It’s all anyone can and should do after falling to 0-3 on the road this season in overtime.

 “ As players, we just have to be better,” Niang said.

ISU started fairly strong, but Baylor closed the first half with a 10-0 flourish to lead 41-35 at the break.

 “So many times we just force things that don’t need to,” ISU coach Steve Prohm said. 

 The Bears shot 54.5 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes and held an 11-2 advantage in points off turnovers. Niang kept the Cyclones afloat, scoring 11 points while grabbing six first-half rebounds. He scored seven straight points during one stretch that eventually culminated in a 29-24 ISU lead on Morris’s second 3-pointer.

 Baylor responded swiftly, though, ripping off those 10 straight points that Lester Medford capped with one of his four 3-pointers that closed the first half’s scoring. 

 ISU recharged and responded immediately after the break, hitting six of their first eight shots — including three of four 3-pointers — to pull within one, at 44-43.

 Two of those long-range baskets (Deonte Burton, Niang) spurred an 8-0 run. Morris would put the Cyclones ahead, 56-54, with a teardrop in the lane and the game’s wild mood fluctuations continued.

 Baylor led by as many as seven points with 7:08 left, but down the stretch it remained a two-possession (or closer) game throughout until the end of 40 minutes. The game featured 14 lead changes and was tied for more than nine minutes.

ISU plays host to TCU at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Hilton Coliseum.

 “That’s all we’re worried about right now,” Nader said.

 As for Niang’s moving up in the record books, he predictably drew zero solace from that. The All-American’s message for the Mayor:

 “I’m sorry I passed you,” he said, "and we couldn’t get a win at the same time.”

Rob Gray


Rob, an Ames native, joined Cyclone Fanatic in August, 2014 after nearly a decade and a half of working at Iowa's two largest newspapers. He spent 10 years at the Des Moines Register and, after a brief stint in public relations, joined the Cedar Rapids Gazette as an Iowa State correspondent three years ago. Rob specializes in feature stories for CF.