Otzelberger: ‘Nobody calls us an underdog at Hilton Coliseum’

Milan Momcilovic and Keshon Gilbert celebrate after knocking off No. 2 Houston at Hilton Coliseum. Photo by Jacqueline Cordova, CycloneFanatic.

AMES – As one of the most intimidating arenas in college basketball, it’s not normal to see Hilton Coliseum feel quiet within 10 minutes of tipoff.

But on Tuesday, as fans were mired in travel efforts by a recent snowstorm, it was calm.

There was a lack of anticipation, and for some a question mark on just how many butts would fill the stadium’s 14,267 seats, but the fans came through.

Once entrances were completed and the ball was tipped, Iowa State fans powered the Cyclones to a 14-0 lead before Houston could score its first points.

“I felt like our guys were the more aggressive team,” Otzelberger said. “We played more physical. We were the more resilient team. We made more plays.”

Fast forward to the game-winning fade away from Milan Momcilovic, and the 10,000 or so diehards in the crowd remained as loud as ever as their Cyclones dethroned No. 2 Houston.

Iowa State coach T.J. Otzelberger hope that it sent a message.

“Nobody’s going to come in here and push us around,” Otzelberger said. “Nobody’s going to come in here and bully us. (I’m) not real happy about being an underdog – not that we follow any of that sort of thing – nobody’s going to call us an underdog at Hilton Coliseum.”

Otzelberger’s team followed the gameplan by the book, with a loud and raucous crowd that was behind the team’s back the whole way through.

“You don’t win games like that if you don’t have all hands on deck,” Otzelberger said. “The great part about being a Cyclone is that everybody’s hands are on deck, and you see that in a blizzard when people come out. You see the support. So, to me, it was more celebrating everybody else and the appreciation for everybody else and everything they do to give us the opportunity to do what we do on a daily basis. (I have) a lot of gratitude.”

With the win, Iowa State improved to 10-0 at Hilton Coliseum this season with eight home contests remaining this year.

Those eight teams just better hope that Vegas doesn’t pick against the Cyclones again.