Resilient Cyclones send UConn packing
By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com PublisherFollow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams
Calipari vs. Calhoun huh?
Life is tough sometimes America. You don't always get what you want. Deal with it.
In its first NCAA Tournament appearance in seven years, Iowa State played spoiler on Thursday night and defeated the defending national champion UConn Huskies by a 77-64 final. The Cyclones came out of the gates on fire from behind the arc and jumped out to an early 36-14 lead.
"That was probably the best 10 minute stretch we've had all season," said Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg on the Cyclone Radio Network after the game.
The Cyclones will take on the tournament's top-seeded team, Kentucky, on Saturday evening at approximately 6:45 CDT.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Royce White - This hardware could have gone to a handful of players. Chris Allen hit big shot after big shot and led the Cyclones with 20 points.
Chris Babb's defense was straight nasty as always. Babb picked up his second foul and left the game with around seven minutes to go in the first half. UConn responded by going on that 10-0 run. Scott Christopherson contributed 15 solid points.
But how can you not go with Royce White? The big man tallied his 11th double-double of the season with 15 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
"Royce White was the best player on the court tonight," said TBS analyst and former NBA great Charles Barkley after the game.
Won without the three - Iowa State was going to have to shoot lights out from 3-point range to win this one...
That's what the pregame chatter told us leading up to Thursday night at least. It started out that way. The Cyclones made six of their first 10 from downtown but believe it or not, Iowa State didn't make a 3-point shot in the last 28 minutes of the game. The Cyclones ended the night going only 6-of-16 from 3-point range.
Why is this a good thing?
Iowa State won an NCAA Tournament game without doing what it does best. The Cyclones worked it out and scored 34 points in the paint compared to 20 by UConn.
That's the sign of a good basketball team.
Resiliency - Iowa State's 22 point lead shrunk to 10 at halftime. That's due to the Cyclones only scoring four points in the last seven minutes of the first half.
UConn got within six with 8:26 to play. The Cyclones kept their minds right though, stuck to the game plan, hit their free throws (19-of-20) and finished.
Iowa State is now 8-2 on the season coming off of a loss. Maybe that Texas loss in Kansas City wasn't a bad thing after all...
Coaching - Fred Hoiberg is now 1-0 as a coach in the NCAA Tournament. Hoiberg deserves props, but what about associate head coach T.J. Otzelberger? Where are all of those people who claimed this season would be a disaster without Bobby Lutz now?
Iowa State's defensive game plan drove UConn crazy. Alex Oriakhi and Andre Drummond only scored two points a piece. Jermy Lamb and Shabazz Napier combined to go 12-of-28 from the floor.
The coaches nailed the game plan. The players executed it. Onto the next round.
Shooting - Iowa State shot 47.3 percent from the field in the win. This is significant because leading up to this game, the Huskies had held its opponents on the season to a combined 38.3 percent.
Rebounding - Iowa State 41, UConn 24. Yes please.
70 - Iowa State is now 18-2 on the season when it scores 70 points or more.
Bench - Bubu Palo,Anthony Booker and Tyrus McGee combined to score 14 points off of the bench for Iowa State. Booker tallied five rebounds as well.
TBS/Starting Lineup - Twitter absolutely exploded before Thursday night's game when TBS announced that Jordan Railey would be a part of Iowa State's starting lineup. Nothing against Jordan, but it was a bit of a shock to any fan who took this in. Luckily, all was right in the world and the five regulars took the floor to battle the Huskies.
Turnovers - Here's the craziest stat of the night...
Iowa State committed 11 turnovers to UConn's four.