Well, it wasn't a good win, but it was a win. Iowa State overcame a mountain of second half mental errors and managed to hang on, beating Texas Tech 70-64 and moving to 19-5 overall and 7-5 in conference play in the process.
Early in the second half and up 18, it looked like Iowa State was going to cruise to an easy win, but over the next 10 minutes and change of game time, the Cyclones completely fell apart. Uncharacteristic turnovers, bad shot selection and a complete neglect of the defensive glass allowed the Red Raiders to get back into the game and even take the lead.
I don't want to take anything away from Texas Tech, because Tubby Smith's team fought throughout and played well enough to make it a game, but that second half meltdown was a result of the young men wearing the home white jerseys. Unfortunately, this isn't the first time we've seen this Cyclone team piss away a lead. In Lubbock, Iowa State led by 15 at the break before allowing Tech to come back and tie the game. Against Kansas State, the Cyclones led by 9 in the second half before giving up an 8-0 run in a matter of 30 seconds. Today was more of the same.
Losing Melvin Ejim and Dustin Hogue to foul trouble didn't help and certainly impacted the rebounding disparity (Tech was +10 overall and +8 on the offensive glass). Iowa State can play stretches without one of those guys on the floor, but when both are on the bench, things break down in a big way in the rebounding department.
The Cyclones were led by DeAndre Kane and Georges Niang. Kane had 17 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists. Niang also had 17 points and dished out 4 assists. Despite spending a good chunk of the game on the bench, Melvin Ejim also managed to get into double figures, scoring 13 points and grabbing 6 rebounds.
The surprise of the game was Naz Long. After a lengthy slump, "3sus of Nazareth" finally broke out and showed the form that landed him a starting spot in the rotation earlier in the year. He came up with 14 huge points off the bench and made 4-7 from outside.
Monte Morris also played a solid game. He didn't make an impact in the scoring column, but did grab 7 rebounds, handed out 5 assists and come up with 3 steals. Dustin Hogue was mostly a non-factor and scored only 5 points and grabbed 3 rebounds.
As far as team stats go, Iowa State was an alarming 9-19 from the line and it's a good thing they were up by 2-3 possessions in the last minute, because they missed their last 4 and 5 of their last 7. The Cyclones did however, manage to take care of the ball and only turned it over 7 times. Iowa State managed to do one thing well as they dished out 21 assists overall.
Defensively, I thought Iowa State's effort was greatly improved from Monday's debacle in Morgantown, but second chance points and 20-24 shooting from the stripe allowed Tech to stay in the game.
Fred Hoiberg has plenty of teaching opportunities between now and Tuesday night's showdown with Texas. The Longhorns sit at second in the conference currently, heading into their game with West Virginia on Saturday evening. That game tips at 6 PM.
*(I tried to get a pic of Niang's "dunk" to lead the story, but there wasn't one available).