I hope all of you had a wonderful first weekend of social distancing (and hopefully adhered to the rules of social distancing), but it is time to hit the ground running on a new week with the third region of our 64 game bracket to pick the greatest Iowa State men’s basketball game of the last 40 years.
If you missed the first two installments, I broke down the games from the Niang Region (2010s) on Thursday and the Grayer Region (1980s) on Friday. Today, we move onto the Fizer Regional and the 2000s.
It does not feel like the 2000s were really that long ago, but I was watching the 2008 national title game on Sunday and those days seemed like a different world. Those of us with cell phones had to flip them open (which as become cool again for some reason), we all had our preference between NSYNC or the Backstreet Boys (Backstreet is, and always will be, the correct answer) and the Scary Movie franchise was the funniest thing we’d ever seen (at least to those of us who went through middle school in the latter part of the decade).
The thing that hammered home how much things have changed though was when my friend’s 12-year-old son, who was watching the 2008 game with us, asked me a simple question.
“Why are all of their shorts so baggy?”
I wish I could have given him a better answer, but that was simply the way we wore them in the 2000s. I remember getting my first pair of high school basketball shorts and exchanging my pair of XLs for some XXXLs in search of a pair that went below the knees.
When three of my friends and I decided to wear our team issued shorts (that went to about mid-thigh) during our senior track season, it was considered ridiculous. We never could have known that less than 10 years later it would be the preferred style for most basketball players in 2020, including myself whenever I step onto the court.
I have no clue what we were thinking about when we decided to wear those baggy shorts. They probably looked just as ridiculous then as they do now, but it was the 2000s, baby, and that’s just how we did it.
Before we unveil the 16 games that made the cut from the 2000s, I want to note again that CF staff guru Kirk Haaland is the one who compiled and seeded this list of games. In my first two articles, I’ve written out ways you can give Kirk some flak for his list, but I spent too many paragraphs writing about basketball shorts, so we will just have to keep moving along.
#1 – No. 6 Iowa State 80, UCLA 56 – March 23, 2000
This was the peak of what is probably the greatest stretch in the history of Iowa State basketball. It was the program’s 29th win in the previous 31 games. It was their 17th victory in 18 games. It was their 10th consecutive victory.
Most importantly, it sent Iowa State to its first Elite Eight and a date with… Well… We won’t talk about that.
The Cyclones absolutely dominated a UCLA team that featured five future NBA players, including Earl Watson and Matt Barnes. Larry Eustachy’s team was ridiculously balanced with Marcus Fizer, Stevie Johnson and Mike Nurse each scoring 16 points.
But, nobody was better than Jamaal Tinsley as the Cyclones’ point guard compiled 14 points, dished 11 assists, grabbed nine rebounds and swiped four steals. It was a fabulous performance by a fabulous point guard.
#2 – #14 Iowa State 64, No. 24 Kansas 62 – Feb. 16, 2000
It had been nearly 18 years since Iowa State last won in Allen Fieldhouse when Larry Eustachy took his team to Lawrence with a freshly-minted top-15 ranking in February 2000. In fact, it had been 13 years since the Cyclones had defeated a ranked opponent on the road at all, let alone the mighty Jayhawks.
That streak looked destined to continue when Kansas built a six-point lead with 3:06 to play in overtime after a pair of Jeff Boschee free throws made the score 59-53. But, chaos ensued for the Jayhawks as Roy Williams’ team turned the ball over on three-straight possessions, two of them turning into Jamaal Tinsley transition layups.
Shortly after, Marcus Fizer, who had a bit of an off-night scoring only 15 points, knocked home a jumper from 16-feet out with six seconds left on the clock to give Iowa State a two-possession lead and seal a crucial victory in the Big 12 title race.
#3 – Iowa State 63, No. 2 Kansas 61 (OT) – Feb. 19, 2005
Iowa State winning in Allen Fieldhouse would have been nearly unfathomable during the program’s 0-5 start to Big 12 play in 2005. Really, winning a conference road game at all was pretty unfathomable considering the program had not done it in nearly four years.
That was before the Cyclones reeled off six-straight wins before their date with the Jayhawks in Lawrence with two of those victories coming over ranked teams and three coming away from Hilton Coliseum. Suddenly, the Cyclones were rolling, but still had work to do if they hoped to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001.
Enter Curtis Stinson.
The Cyclones’ floor general scored 29 points, including a game-winning shot in the lane with 5.1 seconds left in overtime, to stun the Jayhawks and end Bill Self’s team’s 32-game conference win streak in their home arena.
After the game, of which you can find the final eight minutes of regulation plus overtime right here, Self put it rather simply.
“We had no answer for Curtis Stinson.”
#4 – No. 17 Iowa State 72, No. 10 Oklahoma State 61 – Feb. 26, 2000
There was officially a new sheriff in town after Iowa State sent Oklahoma State packing in the program’s 2000 home-finale. The win moved the Cyclones into sole possession of first place in the Big 12 and left the program needing only one win in its final two games to clinch at least a share of its first conference title since 1945.
On a day when Johnny Orr was honored in front of the Hilton Coliseum faithful, all five Iowa State starters played at least 36 minutes and Marcus Fizer starred in what was ultimately his finale collegiate home game, scoring 29 points.
The Cyclones still needed to secure at least one road win over Baylor or Texas Tech, but the Cowboys’ legendary head coach, Eddie Sutton, could see the writing on the wall after his team’s loss in Ames.
“I’m not sure Texas Tech and Baylor can beat this ball club,” Sutton said. “I’ll be surprised if Iowa State gets beat.”
#5 – No. 12 Iowa State 79, No. 5 Kansas 77 – Feb. 5, 2001
To this day, Iowa State remains the last program to defeat Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse in back-to-back seasons. That was the feat the Cyclones accomplished when they went into Lawrence and left with a win for the second-straight year to move into possession of first place in the Big 12 on Feb. 5, 2001.
Behind 19 points from Kantrail Horton, including a 4-of-4 performance from 3-point range, the Cyclones were able to hold off the Jayhawks and move into the driver’s seat towards another Big 12 regular-season title. Horton’s performance was just a small part of Iowa State’s 11-of-17 shooting from 3-point range that gave the Cyclones their fourth-straight win over the Jayhawks.
#6 – No. 23 Iowa State 60, Nebraska 59 – Jan. 20, 2001
Holy crap, everything about the final seconds of this game was absolute insanity.
First of all, I’ll set the scene for you by saying Iowa State was 0-2 on the road in Big 12 play as they started their title defense. But, the Cyclones did arrive in the Devaney Center coming off a dominant win over Colorado and the 2000-01 Nebraska team, led by Cookie Belcher, was, to put it simply, pretty bad.
I will let John “The Godfather” Walters take it from there in this magnificent video that includes The Godfather making not one but two hanging chad jokes and Martin Rancik putting home a layup with less than a second on the clock to secure a victory after some controversy due to a new rule.
#7 – No. 17 Iowa State 89, No. 14 Texas 77 – Feb. 22, 2000
This was part of a two-game stretch that included home games against the Longhorns and Oklahoma State with sole possession of first place in the Big 12 on the line. We talked about the Oklahoma State game earlier so you already know how the two games finished out, but this game is memorable for other reasons and, once again, I’ll let The Godfather, along with the late, great Pete Taylor, fill in the blanks.
#8 – Iowa State 68, No. 15 Kansas 61 – Jan. 31, 2004
This game was somewhat of a signal of things to come from Iowa State’s freshman point guard Curtis Stinson as he scored 16 of his 19 points after halftime while grabbing 11 rebounds to lead the Cyclones to their biggest win of the season.
“Curtis is terrific,” said ISU head coach Wayne Morgan after the game. “His basketball IQ is genius. It was like he was made to play basketball.”
Stinson was helped in the victory by Jake Sullivan, who knocked down five 3-pointers and finished with 17 points, as the Cyclones scored 47 points after halftime to secure the victory.
#9 – No. 6 Iowa State 79, No. 24 Auburn 60 – March 18, 2000
In the game prior to our No. 1 seed, Iowa State was similarly as dominant. Much like in the Sweet 16 win over UCLA, the Cyclones required a balanced attack due to the attention paid towards All-American Marcus Fizer — and Fizer’s teammates delivered.
The Cyclones’ big man scored only two of his 22 points before halftime, but 21 points from Stevie Johnson, 14 points from Mike Nurse and 12 points from Jamaal Tinsley propelled Iowa State into its second Sweet 16 in four years.
“Continue to play us this way because Mike and Jamaal and Stevie and our team will continue to light it up,” Fizer said after the game.
#10 – Iowa State 78, No. 11 Texas 77 – Feb. 14, 2004
Behind 24 points from Jake Sullivan, the Cyclones rallied from a 14-point deficit in the second half to stun the Longhorns on a Damion Staple dunk with 1:09 left on the clock.
The game’s biggest moment though came roughly a minute later as Texas’ Brian Boddicker, an 81 percent free-throw shooter, stepped to the charity stripe for two shots, needing only one tie the game. Instead, Hilton Magic did its thing and both of them caromed off the rim.
#11 – Iowa State 62, Florida State 59 – March 23, 2004
Iowa State snapped a 10-game road losing streak to advance to the quarterfinals of the NIT behind a game-high 19 points from Jake Sullivan. Sullivan connected on three straight 3-pointers early in the game as the Cyclones broke into the lead and never trailed during the 40 minutes.
Iowa State went on to win its next game against Marquette in Ames, advancing to the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden before falling to Rutgers.
#12 – Iowa State 92, No. 20 Texas 80 (OT) – Feb. 5, 2005
Iowa State snapped a 28-game conference road losing streak behind 22 points from Tasheed Carr, 13 of which came in overtime. The Cyclones were given the opportunity for their first conference road win in nearly four years due to a Will Blalock shot in the lane with 37 seconds left in regulation to force overtime.
It was the third win in what would become a seven-game winning streak after starting Big 12 play 0-5.
#13 – No. 7 Iowa State 68, No. 13 Oklahoma State 64 – March 11, 2000
Iowa State advanced to the league tournament final for the first time since the league grew to 12 teams in 1996. They did so despite Marcus Fizer scoring “only” 19 points, which, I guess, was considered an off-night when you remember the Big 12’s player of the year had scored 29 points or more in each of the previous six games, including a tournament-record 38 points against Baylor in the Big 12 quarterfinal.
Stevie Johnson scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while Jamaal Tinsley added 18 points and 12 boards of his own. I could not find a video of this game anywhere on the internet, but I did find the championship game against Oklahoma, which did not make our list, but you still might enjoy anyway.
#14 – No. 8 Iowa State 86, Nebraska 73 – March 3, 2001
Iowa State clinched its second consecutive Big 12 regular-season title outright behind a career-high 29 points from Jamaal Tinsley. The Cyclones closed the game on a 26-13 run as Tinsley scored 23 of his points after halftime in his final game at Hilton Coliseum.
Chants of “We love Larry” rained down from the Hilton Coliseum faithful as Iowa State cut down the nets following what would ultimately be its final win of the 2000-01 season.
#15 – No. 10 Iowa State 75, Baylor 54 – March 3, 2000
Marcus Fizer scored 34 points, his fourth 30-point performance in five games, to help Iowa State clinch its first regular-season conference title since 1945. Baylor security guards prevented the Cyclones from cutting down the nets, but the game left little question as to who was the league’s best team in 1999-00.
#16 – Iowa State 64, Minnesota 53 – March 18, 2005
Iowa State capped its up-and-down 2004-05 season with the program’s first NCAA Tournament win since 2000 behind a balanced attack led by 18 points from Curtis Stinson. It ended up as Iowa State’s last NCAA Tournament win of the 2000s as they failed to get back to the Big Dance until 2012.