This was the perfect basketball game for Iowa Hawkeye basketball players, coaches, and fans. A win and you can claim that you're the best team in the state. A loss, and, like Chris Hassel did on Sportscenter, you can still run around like an idiot shouting "ROSE BOWL."
However, Iowa State found the greatest of ways to kick Iowa square in the nuts and walk away with an 83-82 victory, and the drama easily topped the 2013 Cyclone victory.
The Cyclones started off cold. The offense was finding open lanes but missing bunnies, while the defense had a difficult time with positioning and giving up easy buckets to fall to a 17-6 deficit with over 5 minutes into the half and allowing Jarrod Uthoff to score at will.
However, a Matt Thomas three got the crowd going, and a quick turnover by Georges Niang led to another Thomas three, and the Iceman gave Iowa State new life. Unfortunately, Iowa was able to cool the Cyclones off quickly, and went on a 6 point run of their own to give Iowa the 25-14 lead heading into the second media timeout.
After 13 minutes, the Clone defense still couldn't figure Uthoff out, as he went 7-7 from the floor while putting up 20 points. The Hawks shot 65% from the field and were having their way with Iowa State.
Perhaps the most comedic part of the half was Iowa State coach Steve Prohm pulling all his players to the defensive side of the ball during a Niang free throw, after the defense was having such a difficult time positioning and stopping Iowa.
After some more back and forth on the court, and allowing Uthoff to continue his hot streak, the Cyclones trailed the Hawks 49-35, with Uthoff putting up 30 points while making 11 of his 13 shot attempts.
Besides the missed buckets under the hoop, the Clones also had a difficult time holding onto the ball, turning it over 12 times in the first half. Heading into tonight's game, 11 was the average amount of turnovers they gave up a game.
The Cyclones came out of the half with the game plan to stop Uthoff, and while the strategy to stop him worked, it led to destruction by Peter Jok, who put up 14 points (three of which came off an inbound play from the opposite side of the court in which all 5 Cyclone defenders walked down the court and allowed him to shoot) in just the first 5 minutes of the half and Iowa State was down 65-48 before Steve Prohm called his first timeout of the half.
The timeout was a success for Iowa State, as the Cyclones followed it up with a 10-4 run, dropping the deficit to 69-58. with 10 minutes remaining before Mad Fran called his first timeout of the night.
That timeout, however, only seemed to light the Cyclone fuse even more, and the Cyclones went on a 6-0 run before a Hawkeye bucket followed by a foul led to the second to last media timeout, with a score of Iowa 71, Iowa State 64.
The 20 point lead for Iowa was finally cut to 1 with 5:55 remaining, after McKay fought for back to back offensive rebounds, finally kicking it out to Georges Niang, who put up a huge three pointer to make the score 71-70 in favor of the Hawks.
Unfortunately, the Cyclone offense couldn't quite push over that hump, and gave up a 5-0 run, capped off by a Anthony Clemmons wide open three, to give Iowa an 80-74 lead with 3:18 remaining.
While the run was great, the deficit was far too much, and depth far too little, for Iowa State to overcome the huge 20 point lead the Hawkeyes once held.
Is what was written with just over a minute left in the game. Down 82-76 with 0:59 left, a quick steal with some pressure leading to another Matt Thomas three, followed by a 5 second call and Georges Niang nailing two free throws put Iowa State down one with 55 seconds remaining.
After Iowa received a shot clock violation trying to kill the clock, Monte Morris drove down and nailed a huge jumper to give Iowa State a one point lead with 9 seconds remaining. Mike Gesell drove down and hit Uthoff. However, his hot hand from the first half had faded away, and he clanked a three in the closing seconds, with the hero, Matt Thomas, securing the rebound and the victory.
Proving, once again, Hilton Magic is real.
Iowa State will host Arkansas Pine Bluff Sunday at 5:00 PM on Cyclones TV.