By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com PublisherFollow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams
AMES — Entering Saturday night’s regular season finale at Hilton Coliseum, Baylor was 21-0 while leading at halftime.
Make that 21-1.
After trailing by seven at halftime, Iowa State secured the 3-seed in next week’s Big 12 Tournament in an 80-72 win over the ninth-ranked Bears in front of 14,376 Cyclone Fanatics.
Here’s the recap.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Chris Babb – For 30 minutes, Baylor’s Pierre Jackson looked like a modern day Allen Iverson.
Jackson’s career-high heading into Saturday night’s contest was 25 points. The junior had 28 with 10 minutes to play and finished with only 35. What happened? I’ve written this before. I’ll write it again.
Chris Babb happened.
With 10 to play, Fred Hoiberg made the defensive switch and like he’s done to the opposition’s best all season long, Babb made Baylor pay.
“If you ask me one guy who went out there and changed the flow of the game, I think it was Babb just because of the job he did to make Pierre Jackson take tough shots and keep him out of the paint," said Hoiberg.
Up until then, the undersized Babb had been defending 6-foot-9 freshman Quincy Miller (who only scored six points in the game).
“I just tried to give him (Jackson) as much space as I could without allowing him to pull up," said Babb. "My teammates did a great job of helping as if he was to get by me, they did a great job of collapsing to help out and make him take a tougher shot.”
Babb chipped in offensively as well, hitting two threes and scoring 10 points for the Cyclones.
On Senior Night, it would have been fitting for Scott Christopherson, who scored 23 points, to take home this hardware. But at the rate that Jackson was scoring, Iowa State would not have won this game without Babb’s defense.
3-seed – This win was big for Iowa State’s women’s basketball program as well.
Because the men’s basketball team earned the 3-seed for next week’s Big 12 Tournament, the Cyclones will tip on Thursday in Kansas City at 8:30 p.m. vs. the 6-seed.
Iowa State’s women’s program will be the 4-seed in an 11 a.m. game against Kansas State on the same day. A home loss to Baylor by the men would have guaranteed that the two programs would play at the exact same time in the conference tournament.
Scott Christopherson – It was the perfect way for Scott Christopherson’s career at Hilton Coliseum to end.
After sinking two free throws, Hoiberg took Christopherson out with five seconds to play to allow the Cyclone Nation to show their appreciation.
After leading his team with 23 points, Christopherson knelt down at center court and kissed the Iowa State logo.
“Hilton has been good to me," said Christopherson. "Just like in real life, any time that a girl is good to you, you’ve got to let her know that you appreciate her. I was just telling her thanks.”
Christopherson made two 3-pointers in the game and is now second on Iowa State’s career 3-point chart at 192. He surpassed Dedric Willoughby (Jake Sullivan is No. 1. Not bad company right?)
Christopherson’s five assists in the win were a season-high.
Melvin Ejim – Baylor out-rebounded Iowa State 23-17 in the first half. You don’t have to be Dick Vitale to know why. After picking up two fouls early, Melvin Ejim only played four minutes in that period. The second half was a different story.
Ejim went 5-of-6 from the floor, scored 15 points and snagged six rebounds.
“He is our best offensive rebounder," said Christopherson. "He keeps so many plays alive and he draws so much attention – They have to box him out and I think it frees up other guys to get loose too.”
Notta – Anything written here would be nit-picky and unnecessary.
Iowa State was picked by the league’s coaches in the preseason to finish eighth in the Big 12.
In his second year as head coach, Fred Hoiberg team’s finished third.
No further analysis is needed.
— I’ve written this a few times this year but it needs to be recognized once again. Royce White scored 11 points with 11 rebounds on Saturday night. It was a quiet game for the sophomore too. That’s how you know you’re good.
— With wins over Kansas and Baylor, Iowa State defeated two teams in the AP Top 10 this year for the first time since 2001. Iowa State defeated two top 10 teams at home for the first time since 1992.
— Baylor is now 0-10 in games played at Hilton Coliseum.
— Iowa State is 17-0 when outshooting its opponent. The Cyclones shot 45.6 percent from the field compared to Baylor’s 41.5.