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We have all heard the ugly, somewhat impossible to believe statistic by now. Iowa State hasn’t won a game in the Big 12 Tournament since 2005. What once was a several day stay for the Cyclone Nation in the land of basketball and Kelly’s Irish beer has turned into an uneventful one night stand.
The last win for the Cyclones in the Big 12’s came in year number two of the Wayne Morgan regime –a 77-57 victory over Baylor on March 11, 2005.
The top two songs the week of Iowa State’s last win were 50 Cent’s "Candy Shop" and Green Day’s "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," the latter song fitting for the journey back to Iowa on I-35. (Candy Shop was a Blum favorite at Sips in Ames back in the day. I’m sure the sorority girls still discuss the brilliance of those moves. Or not.)
The remarkable part of the streak is the relative anonymity of each of the losses. They all run together to form a combo of sickness.
2006: Oklahoma State 79 Iowa State 70 – The Cyclones rallied from an 18 point deficit in Dallas to tighten the game at 70-68, only to see noted chucker JamesOn Curry knock down a big jumper with two minutes left. It would be the last time we saw Captain Wayne Morgan on the sideline as all heck broke loose in the following week.
2007: Oklahoma 68 Iowa State 63 – In Greg McDermott’s first year at the helm, the Cyclones dug themselves a 12 point hole in the 2nd half in Oklahoma City. Thanks to solid efforts by Mike Taylor and Dodie Dunson, the Cyclones took a one point lead late in the game, only to falter late.
2008: Texas A&M 60 Iowa State 47 – The Cyclones never led in a lackluster offensive performance at the new Sprint Center. Frehsman Craig Brackins chipped in 20 and 12, but that was the lone bright spot in the most forgetful of forgetful Big 12 performances.
2009: Oklahoma State 81 Iowa State 67 – "Big Silky" Jamie Vanderbeken hit his fourth three of the game to give Iowa State a 48-44 lead with 14 minutes to play in OKC. Freshman Keiton "Bleeping" Page hit a counter trey and the Cowboys were off and running en route to shooting sixty percent from the field in the 2nd half.
2010: Texas 82 Iowa State 75 – Iowa State played catch up for most of the contest, getting to within one point at 41-40 with 15 minutes left. Damion James was too much, the Longhorn put up 28 points and 16 rebounds in what turned out to be the start of a major upheaval for Iowa State Basketball. In the post-game locker room, Marquis Gilstrap announced his appeal to gain more eligibility was denied by the NCAA. The next day, Craig Brackins bolted for the NBA, meanwhile Justin Hamilton and Dom Buckley released that they would be transferring to new schools closer to home. The Utah native Hamilton ended up in Louisiana. Three weeks later, Dana Altman vacated the Creighton job and the rest is Hoiberg history.
2011: Colorado 77 Iowa State 75 – The Cyclones entered the tourney as a 12 seed for the first time. They almost pulled off a stunner. Uncle Jake Anderson (33 points) and Diante Garrett (19 points) torched the Buffs and had the Cyclones up six with three minutes to play. But in a movie we’ve seen before and after, the lead evaporated quickly. Colorado sophomore Alec Burks made a bunch of plays late to spoil a great Cyclone effort.
2012: Texas 71 Iowa State 65 – In a loss that stung the most, third-seeded Iowa State built an 11 point lead in the 2nd half after Royce White fired a one hand bullet pass to Melvin Ejim that would make Matt Cassel jealous. J’Covan Brown kept the Horns in it and he made a huge shot late to give Texas the edge. Iowa State couldn’t make a shot, finishing 5-18 from three point land as Texas moved on. A Cyclone team that was picked by some to win the tourney exited meekly on Thursday night.
It seems an eternity since Iowa State made a run during this week. The last time the Cyclones played in a semi-final was the Fizer/Tinsley Big 12 champion run in 2000. That’s a helluva long time to not be involved in the latter stages of the tourney.
I made my first trip down to Kansas City while a sophomore in high school in 2001. My two brothers and I packed up our gear in my mom’s SUV and booked it south to Kemper arena on Thursday night. I spent a good portion of my allowance on all session tickets and planned to see the first seeded Cyclones play until Sunday and win their second straight Big 12 title. They had the player of the year in Jamaal Tinsley and the coach of the year in Larry Eustachy, there was no way they weren’t getting to Sunday. We camped out at the always classy Red Roof Inn and planned to live it up on McDonald’s, Mountain Dew and Skittles — it was going to be the best weekend of my 16 year old life.
Iowa State played the first game of the afternoon session on Friday against Baylor and head coach Dave Bliss — a team they had dispatched by 25 earlier in the year, piece of cake. It was a nightmare from the get-go. The Cyclones couldn’t make a thing, Baylor flopped more than Marcus Smart, Tinsley got in foul trouble, the Cyclones turned it over at an alarming rate and Iowa State became the first ever one seed to lose in the quarterfinals.
It was awful, a worse feeling than getting turned down by the good-looking girl in my Geometry class for the winter formal two months prior. My brothers and I managed to soldier our way through the rest of the three games that day in order to see the Mizzou duo of Clarence Gilbert and Kareem Rush launch about 70 shots each, but couldn’t muster any more. I sold my hard-earned tickets for about fifty percent of their value to some Oklahoma fan with two teeth, cut-off jeans and a mullet. When we returned to the Red Roof, we phoned the front desk and asked if we could cancel our reservation for the next two nights. The ‘fella answering the phone replied with no hesitation, "Ya’ll must be Cyclone fans. I feel bad for you since you lost to Baylor. No problem." And that night was my first of many sad, lethargic trips back on the I-35 Boulevard of Broken Dreams.
As Kirk Haaland pointed out in his always astute manner, every Big 12 team has won at least three games in the tourney since Iowa State was victorious in ’05. (Obviously TCU and WVU have not participated). That includes former degenerates like Nebraska and Colorado. Kansas has won 16 games in the Big 12 tourney since Iowa State last won ONE GAME. Sad.
This stretch of poor results has to stop. For the sake of all of us and the fine folks at Kelly’s in Westport, the Cyclones deserve to hang around for a while. As we have discovered in this hair-pulling year of Cyclone basketball, Hoiberg’s bunch is capable of just about anything. It is not out of the realm of possibility that they could win the whole Big 12 enchilada. They have the firepower and the ability to run anyone out of the Power and Light District.
The new generation of Iowa State fans has no appreciation for the awesomeness that is Hilton South. Each game the Cyclones win, the caravan down to Kansas City doubles. Just imagine what the scene would be like on Friday night if the Cyclones were to get their rightful win over KU. It could be a party of substantial proportions. In order to get there, it starts with Oklahoma. Just win one and make it a weekend.
We’re all tired of the one-night stand.