Wow. That's the word that comes to mind right now. Wow.
This isn't the best team Kansas team Iowa State has faced since Fred Hoiberg arrived in Ames, and it's not even the best version of the team this season. However, it's still a victory over Kansas and more importantly it puts the Cyclones into the final game of the Big 12 tournament for the first time in 14 years.
Iowa State's 94-83 win gives the Cyclones a win over every team in the Big 12 this season and gives them the opportunity to improve their seeding in next week's NCAA tournament. They talk about March being the time of big time guard play and tonight was no different.
DeAndre Kane shouldered the load when the Cyclones needed him the most and 15 of his 20 points game from behind the arc as he went an outstanding 5 of 6 from three. He wasn't the only hot shooter of the night though. The Cyclones shot 54% from the field and 58% (11-19) from behind the arc. Georges Niang shook off a slow start in the first half by going 7 of 10 from the field in the second half and was utterly unstoppable in the final stretches of the game.
An ill-timed turnover from Niang with a little over a minute left looked like the the play that could tip things in Kansas' favor but he stepped up the next time down the floor and drew a charge that left him on the ground and bloodied.
Niang's charge, the ensuing blood, and his fist pump as he walked off the floor will go down as legendary, and doubly so if the Cyclones leave Kansas City with a crystal and marble trophy on their bus.
The real MVP of the game though were the Cyclone fans. Last year a lot of us felt there would be a 70/30 split between KU and ISU fans, but it ended up closer to 80/20. Not so this year. While it was noticeably blue in the lower deck on TV the noise alone told you that this was anything but a home game for the Jayhawks. Kansas fans still outnumbered the Cyclone faithful but the ones dressed in cardinal and gold got behind the team early, canceled out nearly every Jayhawk cheer, and carried the team down the stretch.
If you thought it was loud tonight, just wait until tomorrow night. Fred Hoiberg brought Hilton Magic back to Ames, and he made sure it hitched a ride with the team to Kansas City too.
The win gave the Cyclones 25 wins on the season, which ties the 2001 team for the 2nd most in school history.
Baylor's 86-69 win over Texas puts them in their second Big 12 Championship game in three years, but they're facing an uphill battle as no team has ever won four games in the Big 12 tournament.
The Bears are as hot as anyone in the country and hold a win over Iowa State that happened just ten days ago. Their zone is reinvigorated, they're using their length, and the offense is clicking on all cylinders. With Iowa State playing some of their best basketball themselves this game is looking like it will be a barn burner.
Baylor showed a wrinkle to their zone tonight by switching to a 2-3 zone to counter the threes that Oklahoma shot last night and Texas was sure to shoot tonight. It worked and the Longhorns shot 40% from the field and 33% from behind the arc, and it leads to the first key for the championship match up: keep up the hot shooting.
Iowa State is on a tear offensively having scored in the 90s in both games in the tournament and an offensive letdown cannot happen if the Cyclones want to cut down the nets. A fast start is big here and early points in the paint will force Baylor out of their zone and into a situation that Scott Drew absolutely does not want.
For Iowa State to win they have to do three things that they could not do in Waco:
1. Shoot well
2. Take care of the ball
3. Get to the rack
Oh, and that partisan crowd won't hurt.
Baylor is very, very good right now, but there's something they won't have tomorrow night:
Iowa State 84