Iowa State defeated the Texas Longhorns 69-67 on Thursday evening after Monte Morris drilled a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer. It capped what was a career night for Morris, as the sophomore point guard scored 24 points and chipped in three rebounds, three assists and five steals.
The Cyclones never led until the final buzzer sounded, providing the very definition of the March Madness phrase "survive and advance."
The first four minutes of the game were exciting, as both teams traded blows like two heavyweight fighters. A Jonathan Holmes layup was answered by a Georges Niang sky hook on the other end, then a Connor Lammert three pointer was followed immediately by a three from Naz Long. At the first media timeout, the game was tied 8-8 after another three from both teams.
That was when the Iowa State offensive machine started to sputter.
The Cyclones managed six points on three layups in the next three minutes, but couldn't stop Texas' offense. At the under-12 media timeout, the Longhorns were up 23-14 on 56.3 percent shooting, while going a red-hot 5-7 from 3-point range.
From there, Iowa State ended up going on a nearly 10 minute long scoring drought. The Cyclones couldn't buy a bucket and when Niang finally hit a hook shot in the lane with 3:05 left in the first half, Texas had run the score up to 29-16.
Niang and Morris scored the rest of Iowa State's points in the first half, and ISU went into the locker room trailing Texas by 11 points, 36-25.
The start of the second half was very similar to the start of the first. On Iowa State's first possession, a three from Long found the bottom of the net, but Holmes immediately made a three of his own for Texas. Holmes chipped in one more three and by the under-16 timeout, Texas had increased their lead to 12 points.
That's when "Man-Man" started to put the team on his back.
For the next five minutes of game time, Iowa State's star sophomore scored eight points on his own and threw a beautiful lob pass for a Jameel McKay dunk at the 10:40 mark that got Iowa State to within six points and brought the pro-ISU Sprint Center crowd to its feet.
In the next sequence, it was time for Texas' own sophomore point guard to shine. Isaiah Taylor made three buckets and a free throw versus just three free throws for Iowa State to extended the Longhorn lead back to 10 points, 61-51.
Iowa State got the lead down to eight at the final media timeout, and then the #HiltonSouthMagic happened.
Demarcus Holland immediately made two free throws to push Texas' lead to 10 points, 67-57, with 3:56 remaining. Those ended up being the last points of the game for the Longhorns.
ISU cut the lead back to six after free throws from Niang and Morris, then Dustin Hogue hit a huge three from the corner with 2:19 left to pull it into a one possession game. The very next possession, Morris hit another three and the comeback was officially completed as both teams were knotted up 67-67.
Texas got the ball with 46 seconds remaining after Dustin Hogue ripped the ball from Cameron Ridley's arms, then proceeded to accidentally dribble the ball off his foot out of bounds. Taylor missed a floater in the lane with 19 seconds left, but Lammert grabbed the offensive rebound and it looked like Texas would hand ISU one of their patented nut-kicks.
Then, Javan Felix did the unthinkable and shot a three with 10 seconds left on the clock. It clanged off the rim and Hogue grabbed the miss and immediately called timeout.
With only five seconds left, Iowa State inbounded the ball to Morris, who dribbled up the side of the floor, planted his feet 16 feet from the rim and shot a beautiful fadeaway that got nothing but net as the buzzer sounded.
69-67, an instant Cyclone classic.
In addition to the outstanding game from Morris, Georges Niang also played very well. The Wooden Award finalist ended the game with 22 points on 7-15 shooting. Niang also shared the ball with his teammates, totalling six assists on the night.
No other Cyclone scored in double digits, but Jameel McKay had a productive night on the boards, hauling in nine rebounds (three offensive).
Iowa State advances to play the Oklahoma Sooners in tomorrow night's second semifinal game. The game will tip at 8 p.m. CST and be aired on ESPN2.