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Basketball

Blum: Seven years and ticking

By Brent Blum, CycloneFanatic.com Columnist
Follow Brent on Twitter @BrentBlum

*** CycloneFanatic.com’s coverage of the 2012 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Tournament in Kansas City is brought to you by WCI Pools & Spas located in Urbandale and Ames. Bring your Big 12 Tournament ticket stub into WCI Pools & Spas by March 31st and receive and extra $500 off of a Jacuzzi Hot Tub. ***

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KANSAS CITY — One and done. This was not how the week was supposed to end. 2012 was positioned to be the renaissance of Hilton South, but what transpired was a re-enactment of all too many recent Cyclone trips to Kansas City. Once more, the Cyclone Nation takes the gut-wrenching trek back north before the weekend.

After Thursday night’s 71-65 quarterfinal loss to Texas, the Cyclones have to be kicking themselves. They had the chance to put Texas away and didn’t. The Longhorns were laboring on offense and the Cyclones had finally started to get their running game going. Through the first 25 minutes, Chris Babb had done a tremendous job of discouraging J’Covan Brown and the Longhorn offense was nearly nonexistent. But the Cyclones never landed the knock-out blow and Texas responded time and time again and controlled the rest of the game.

Over the course of the year, we saw Iowa State grow in late game situations. The Cyclones fought off to win close contests against Kansas, Kansas State and Baylor. But when push came to shove, it was Texas that dominated the final possessions this time around. It is a costly and timely reminder how fragile the game of basketball can be.

It is also a reminder to the Cyclone fan-base. That slap to the face is never far away.

Seven straight times the Cyclones were left empty-handed at the Big 12 tournament. Every other school in the conference has won at least three tournament games in that time-span. Kansas has won 16. Iowa State has none. Brutal.

From Dallas to Oklahoma City to Kansas City, the nightmare reoccurs. This year had a different feel to it. The Cyclone Nation was well represented and the party was just getting started. A Big 12 Tournament title was a legit and logical possibility for the first time in a decade. Extra clothes were packed and plans were made to stay for a while. Yet here we sit on Thursday night with the ever too familiar result.

This one hurts. It has been a while since Iowa State has had this type of gut-punching loss. They have had plenty of losses over the past decade, but those were expected. The loss to Texas is the first time Iowa State has lost to a team with a worse record in the Big 12 tournament since the 2001 meltdown against Baylor.

The cops were called before the party could even get started.

Give credit to Texas. They controlled the pace of the game throughout. The Horns crashed the glass and were the aggressor most of the night. There may not be another player I want with the ball in the final minutes than J’Covan Brown and he showed why. The Cyclone starting guards going 7-for-26 from the floor didn’t help the cause.

It was a bitter learning experience. Now, there are no more learning experiences. It’s one and WAY done.

The Cyclones get a couple extra days to stew before they find out their NCAA tournament fate. It is nice to have bigger dreams to chase this time of year. There are plenty of opportunities to ease the discontent. The Texas game will be an after-thought the minute Iowa State’s name pops up on the CBS screen.

But for now, the pit in the stomach nags. The Cyclone fan-base gets some unwanted time to ponder another Big 12 tournament trek gone awry; left at the altar one more time. Seven years and counting.

Until next year.

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