By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com PublisherFollow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams
Iowa State didn’t shock the college basketball world on Saturday evening.
Iowa State did give the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats everything that they wanted though.
The 87-71 final score isn’t easy on the eyes but for 30 minutes, Iowa State was in it. After trailing by 11 at halftime, the Cyclones stormed back and tied the game at 42 with around 15 to play. That’s when Kentucky went all Kentucky on Iowa State with on a 20-2 run.
Marquis Teague paced the Wildcats with 24 points, Kentucky shot 64 percent from the field in the second half and that was all she wrote.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Royce White – "I am the best player in the nation."
That’s what Royce White screamed to the sideline after carving through Kentucky’s frontcourt, throwing down a tomahawk jam and nearly singlehandedly bringing Iowa State back into this game in midway though the second half.
He might have a point.
White finished the game with 23 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Even Kentucky’s ridiculously talented front court full of lottery picks couldn’t slow down White once he entered "beast mode."
Royce White is an incredible basketball player. His whole life is an incredible story and the way that he led the underdog Cyclones throughout this season makes him an incredible Cyclone.
And now we wait…
Was that the last game that White will ever play in an Iowa State uniform?
Fight – This team had it. The Cyclones traded blows with top-ranked Kentucky like Rocky with Ivan Drago. . Unfortunately this time, Rocky surrendered 10 minutes early.
Even so, when fans think of the 2011-12 Cyclones in 10 years, this group will be remembered for its resiliency.
Kentucky might have won this game by 16 points, but the Wildcats got more fight from the Cyclones than they expected.
Percy Gibson – Iowa State’s freshman post only played 10 minutes in the loss, but went 3-for-4 from the field and showed no fear in his first NCAA Tournament game while doing so. Gibson did not play in Iowa State’s second round win over UConn.
He still has work to do on the defensive end of the floor. Most freshmen do. But Gibson’s progress throughout his rookie year should give Iowa State fans hope for the front court in the future, even if White does go pro.
Fred Hoiberg – Before he was named Iowa State’s head basketball coach, Fred Hoiberg had never coached a game at any level of hoops. After two years as Iowa State’s head man, Hoiberg has been to the NCAA Tournament and not only that, won a game in it. Keep in mind that Hoiberg managed to do this without a true point guard while turning a group of transfers into one of the most unselfish teams in all of college basketball.
Is it time for a raise and contract extension yet? I say yes.
3-point shooting – Here’s the most incredible stat from this basketball game. Iowa State, a team that his thrived off of the 3-point shot all season long, scored 71 points while going 3-of-22 from behind the arc. How?
It doesn’t help that Kentucky went 10-for-2o from 3-point range.
Guard play – The trend continues.
When Chris Allen and Scott Christopherson produce, Iowa State wins. When the two senior guards have off nights, the Cyclones do not.
Allen, Christopherson, and Chris Babb combined to go 11-for-32 from the field.
Allen had the toughest night at 6-for-19. Christopherson come on late going 5-for-11. Babb was non-existent on the offensive end at 0-for-2.
Rebounding – Kentucky was out-rebounded in each of its two losses this season. That certainly wasn’t the case on Saturday night. The Wildcats owned the glass 21-11 in the first half and 40-31 overall.