Iowa State dropped yet another heart-breaker to the Kansas Jayhawks, 108-96 in overtime, as the Cyclones' home winning streak is snapped at 22 games.
When just about every single national basketball writer is flipping out about the officiating, there's not much I can say that hasn't already been said. While the refs were completely terrible, they were not as skewed towards Kansas as some would believe. Sure, Iowa State got their screw jobs at the most inopportune times, but it should be noted that the Cyclones were benefactors as well, most notably the fourth foul on Withey for a charge, which Georges Niang appeared to be still sliding under him.
SI's Andy Glockner probably summed up the sequence of awful officiating best:
Looks like a KU charge. No call. Guy who should have fouled out keeps OReb alive. ISU called for phantom reach in on floor. Awesome.— Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) February 26, 2013
Here's video of the last sequence:
(UPDATE: Andy Katz is reporting that the Big 12 will be officially reviewing the last minute of the game.)
ESPN's Big Monday wouldn't be complete with just one controversy, as the second controversy of the night revolved around KU's Elijah Johnson ending an already decided game with an emphatic dunk while Cyclone players had already conceded, then chest bumping his teammates, putting a ignominious touch on his 39 point career night, dropping 3 after 3 to keep the Jayhawks alive in regulation, then to seal it in overtime. After the game, Johnson apologized for his actions, saying he was simply caught up in the moment. Bill Self also weighed in. Look, we can be cynical and say that Bill Self made him do it, or that apologies don't make up for the action, but I'll choose to take the kid at his word and hope that he learns from it.
As for the Cyclones, there was plenty to like, highlighted by Chris Babb putting a masterful defensive performance on future lottery pick Ben McLemore, holding him to just 7 points. Tyrus McGee once again proved that there's no such thing as a bad shot for him, finishing with 22 points, while Georges Niang dished out 7 assists and showed humongous huevos on what could (should?) have been a game clinching three at the end of regulation, one of few shots that were falling for him.
I think tonight's game really shows just how valuable Melvin Ejim is to the team, as his consistent foul trouble led to the Canadian playing only 22 minutes and only grabbing 7 rebounds, far off his recent double-double pace. The lack of his presence resulted in the Cyclones losing the rebounding battle, 41-31. However, the encouraging sign is that Anthony Booker filled in admirably after not receiving much playing time during the middle of the season, with some good inside defense and even chipping in with a 3 pointer.
The most important positive, however, has been the players' responses to what could have been a demoralizing loss. A couple of excerpts:
Georges Niang: "A call's a call. We're men here. I promise you we'll come back even harder."— Mike Hlas (@Hlas) February 26, 2013
Korie Lucious says he takes ownership for some of the deep threes that Elijah Johnson hit. #Cyclones— Chris Williams (@ChrisMWilliams) February 26, 2013
Nobody likes to see a loss, but with players taking ownership instead of blaming the refs, and focusing on the positives, I certainly wouldn't bet against this talented squad to end the season strong.