AMES — About that Isaiah Cousins technical foul for taunting that just so happened to precede No. 17 Iowa State’s rollicking 22-0 run and 77-70 back-from-the-dead win over his Oklahoma team …
Sooners coach Lon Kruger boiled what it meant down to two words.
“Two points,” he said.
The Cyclones’ Georges Niang, who scored those two points before adding a 3-point play immediately after, shared an opposing view.
“I think when someone gets up in your face telling you how they’re kicking your butt, you’re going to retaliate in some way,” said Niang, who scored 20 of his 23 points Monday as ISU erased a 21-point second-half deficit against the No. 15 Sooners. “Luckily, we retaliated in the right way. I think that was just the push that we needed. It’s too bad that it took us until the second half to get that, but I thought the guys really fought hard.”
Cousins’ T came with 14:55 left and with Oklahoma (20-9, 11-6) enjoying a 48-28 lead.
His teammate, Ryan Spangler, had just blocked a Niang shot attempt.
Niang responded by scoring 18 points on 6 of 6 field goal shooting and 4 of 4 free throw shooting. Talk about a closer — but he had company. Monté Morris scored 10 of his 19 points during that span.
“We were saying as soon as we have some type of momentum swing we’ve got to jump on it,” said the Cyclones’ Naz Long, who had a team-high two steals. “Things weren’t going our way and it was as simple as that. So whatever little opportunity we have we have to jump on it. So we saw the tech. Georges knocked them down and we said, ‘This is it. We’ve got to turn it up.’ And coaches kept saying, ‘Believe.’ Jameel (McKay), Georges, Monté, myself, Dustin (Hogue), we just kept saying, ‘Believe,’ and we pulled it off, man. It was just beautiful.”
It was also the largest comeback in regulation in the history of ISU, which improved to 21-8, 11-6. But the players’ revival had help.
“It’s just different when you have the crowd so behind you,” Long said. “ I mean, I credit the crowd so much. We had no energy going. Shots weren’t falling. Our momentum was so down and they just kept bringing us back into it. Credit to Monté, Georges, Jameel, I feel like they led us the whole way, but I love this place. … I’ve got to credit it to Hilton magic.”
For the second straight time, ISU’s Bryce Dejean-Jones wasn’t in the game for crunch time minutes. In fact, the high-flying senior didn’t play at all in the second half.
“We went with the guys we had going,” Cyclone coach Fred Hoiberg said.
BACK ON THE BOARDS
Hogue had 10 rebounds, notching double-digit numbers on the glass for the second time this season and first since corralling 13 in a Dec. 12 win at Iowa. Hogue, a senior, also hit the go-ahead 3-pointer that capped the 22-0 run.
“I just know the last game me and Dustin played together (at Indian Hills Community College), it was just like this,” said McKay, who totaled 14 points and 12 rebounds to post his third career double-double. “We were down and we came back and we won. At halftime, that’s the first thing he told me and I’m like, ‘Well, shoot, we can do it again.’ And we ended up fighting back. We stayed together and we believed. I said (to the team), ‘If you don’t believe we can win this game, don’t walk out of that locker room at halftime.’ And everybody walked out, so I knew that we all believed we could win and that’s what we did.”
ISU improved to 7-4 against ranked teams this season. … The Cyclones shot 58.3 percent in the second half and scored 59 points after the break. They also had eight of their nine offensive rebounds after halftime and 10 of their 13 assists. ISU outscored Oklahoma 19-4 in points off turnovers after the break and 28-8 in points in the paint. “Look, it’s a tale of two halves,” Hoiberg said. “That’s a great team. Lon Kruger is one of my all-time favorites. We just got it rolling.”