Now that's how you finish out a ball game. Iowa State closed out the game with a 23-10 run and put away #7 Michigan late to triumph 77-70 in a frenzied Hilton Coliseum. There were highlights galore, but nobody stood out more than Melvin Ejim. The senior battled back from a hyper extended knee that caused him to miss the first two games of the year and while many thought he wouldn't even play today, he ended up being the best player on the floor as he scored 22 points and pulled down 9 rebounds.
Iowa State trailed the Wolverines for most of the second half, but after an enormous three-pointer by DeAndre Kane, the Cyclones managed to tie the game and never trailed again. Kane struggled at times today, but Fred Hoiberg stuck with him and it paid off in a big way.
Wow. I've been a part of some special games at Hilton Coliseum, but today might take the cake. Iowa State fans, you brought it today and you have to think that left a pretty big impression on visiting Rashad Vaughn. The place was electric from the moment I walked in around 45 minutes prior to tip off. The crowd played a major role in Iowa State's victory, almost willing this Cyclone team to get back into the game despite being down 8 early in the second half.
That was Hilton Magic, plain and simple.
Toughness, This Team Has It
I was blown away by how hard this team competed. It wasn't always pretty, but this team fought their asses off for 40 minutes and it showed. With guys like Ejim, Dustin Hogue, Kane and Naz Long getting after it, this team could end up being the most physically tough of any of The Mayor's teams yet. They don't have the flash that last year's team had, but this team has grit and absolutely doesn't let up. Hogue had a monster game defensively, guarding anyone from Mitch McMary to a red-hot Nik Stauskas. Once Hoiberg brought Georges Niang back into the game around the 4-minute mark in the second half, Hogue moved to the wing and managed to hold Staukas in check.
The Implications Of This Win
Well, as I mentioned, it can't hurt our chances with Vaughn. In the immediate future though, the Cyclones could find themselves in the top 25 come Monday morning and if Michigan plays to their potential, which I believe they will, this win is going to look awfully impressive come Selection Sunday in March.
Will There Be A Hangover In Provo?
I don't want to get too caught up in that yet. Probably best to enjoy this win for tonight and start worrying about how ISU plays at BYU tomorrow. The biggest concerns are how sore Ejim will be tomorrow and how did this game affect the confidence of freshmen Matt Thomas and Monte Morris. Thomas didn't have it going tonight and was a liability defensively, but still played solid minutes and you have to think he'll learn from this experience. Morris was not good in the first half. Just can't sugar coat it. He did, however, bounce back and step up in the second half after Kane left with a leg injury. These guys are freshman. They'll have games like this, but I have no doubts about the ability of either moving forward and expect them to play better on Wednesday night.
Well, enough out of me. What did you think of the game? How would you compare the atmosphere to some of the better Hilton moments? What concerns you? What encourages you?