AMES — After Iowa State’s surprise 56-51 loss to Texas Tech on Wednesday, many questioned this team’s heart and toughness.
That absolutely will not be the case after Saturday afternoon’s brawl with Kansas State, a 73-67 Cyclone victory. In a meat-grinder of a game in which Kansas State always seemed to have an answer, so did the Cyclones.
“They hit some tough shots, said Fred Hoiberg. “We didn’t put our head down. We kept going. We kept trusting our offense.”
Iowa State knocked down eight second half 3 pointers to combat suspect free throw shooting and a 64 percent second half shooting percentage by the Wildcats.
With the win, Iowa State improved to 14-5 overall and 4-2 in Big 12 play while gaining its most impressive victory of the season. The Cyclones will travel to Oklahoma State on Wednesday night.
Here’s your recap.
Player of the Game
Will Clyburn – Others were worthy but you can’t not give it to a guy who posted 24 and 10. To dig a little deeper, Will Clyburn’s five offensive rebounds were critical in securing the Cyclone victory.
“I hear the coaches all of the time – ‘crash, crash crash – get the offensive rebound,’” said Clyburn. “That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to get the ball more."
Four of those five offensive boards for Clyburn came in the second half. It marked the senior’s fifth double-double of the season and was his third 20 point game. Don’t look now but Clyburn is making a strong push to be the Big 12’s Newcomer of the Year.
Ball Movement –Tyrus McGee buried a 3-pointer with 9:47 to play in the first half. There’s nothing special about that right? Most of the time, that’d be correct. McGee makes 3-pointers all of the time for Iowa State. This one was important though.
It was the result of what might have been Iowa State’s best offensive possession of the season.
“That was an example of everybody touching the ball more than once,” said Clyburn of the play. “We got a great shot – a wide open shot – for one of the best shooters on our team.”
Hoiberg pointed out the possession as well in his postgame press conference.
“That play where we had that ball swinging around the horn – I looked up and there was 17 seconds on the shot clock,” said Hoiberg. “That thing had been reversed three times on the floor to get Tyrus a wide-open shot. When we play that kind of basketball and share it with each other, we are a pretty tough team to stop.”
It was an area where the Cyclones struggled mightily on Wednesday night. Iowa State’s ball movement was impeccable in this very important victory.
Rebounding – The statistics had been skewed. Sure – Iowa State is technically the Big 12’s leading rebounding team but when you shrink the season down to Big 12 games only, the Cyclones were seventh in the league heading into Saturday.
Iowa State out-rebounded Kansas State 35-28 and more importantly, collected 11 offensive rebounds that resulted in 18 second chance points (compared to only two by the Wildcats.)
Clyburn grabbed the 10 boards of course. Melvin Ejim snagged 10 as well, giving him 13 games with 10 or more rebounds this season.
Iowa State is 12-2 this season when out-rebounding its opponent.
Naz Long – Let the Mayor explain…
“I’m going to tell you one thing, a guy who I thought was player of the game but you probably won’t believe me, was Naz Long,” said Hoiberg.
There was what could have been a major clock malfunction at the end of the game that nearly gave Kansas State an extra seven seconds or so of time. With 27.2 on the clock, out of nowhere and right before a clutch Korie Lucious lay-up, it stopped!
The officials didn’t see it. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the majority of fans inside of a sold out Hilton Coliseum didn’t either. Kansas State got the ball back and Rodney McGruder was on his way to the free throw line.
“I’m standing up there at half-court,” said Hoiberg. “McGruder is going to the free throw line. He runs up and says ‘the clock didn’t start.’ They ran seven seconds off so give this one to Naz.”
Well done Naz Long. Well done.
Free Throws – Think you were sick after Wednesday’s loss? If Iowa State would have lost this one to Kansas State at home while going 10-of-22 from the free throw line, Cyclone Fanatic’s server likely would have blown up.
“I’m probably going to go to Sukup and shoot a couple hundred tonight,” joked freshman Georges Niang.
Kansas State wasn’t much better. The Wildcats only made 4-of-9 free throws. There must have been something in Hilton Coliseum’s water before the game…
Will Spradling – How hot was this guy in the second half? Kansas State’s sharp-shooter went 4-for-5 from 3-point range and nearly slayed the Cyclones all by himself.
None – You know the rule…No three downs from league wins.
Check out Cyclone Fanatic later on today for more coverage of today’s game.