Last night, it was "The Shot" on Monte Morris' buzzer beater. Tonight, it was "The Miss" as Oklahoma's Ryan Spangler missed a wide open layup with just a few seconds left on the clock that would have tied the game. The miscue provided what was perhaps a non-poetic ending to the 120 minutes of brilliant basketball the Cyclones and the Sooners played this season, as ISU escaped with a 67-65 victory.
Oklahoma came out firing the three ball to start the game, as the Sooners scored their first 12 points of the game via the long ball. At the under-12 media timeout, OU lead 17-6 and it looked like it was going to be another one of those first halfs for Iowa State.
Instead, the Cyclones used a spirited defensive effort to rally back and tie it up 29-29 by halftime. It was one of the most balanced 20 minutes of the season for ISU, as they had six players score between 4-7 points.
With the score at 17-6, both teams traded shots. Georges Niang made a layup, then Jordan Woodard answered with a jumper for the Sooners. Jameel McKay made a layup on the next possession, but OU's TaShawn Thomas hit another jumper on the other end of the court.
After that, the Cyclones went on a 16-6 run to close out the half. Abdel Nader sparked the run, scoring four quick points off the bench. Then last night's hero Monte Morris added a layup of his own and Nader threw down a one handed dunk off an assist from Bryce Dejean-Jones.
Speaking of Dejean-Jones, the senior transfer drilled the first 3-pointer of the game for Iowa State at the 2:33 mark in the first half. That three broke the seal for ISU, who had previously been 0-9 on the long ball. Of course, on the very next ISU possession, Naz Long hit the second three for the Cyclones to tie the game up at 27 all.
Long followed up his three ball by picking an OU pass and taking it coast-to-coast to give Iowa State their first lead of the game. Two Buddy Hield free throws brought Oklahoma back to even and that's when the horn sounded to mark the end of the first half.
Iowa State opened up the second half on a 11-4 run. However, Oklahoma soon closed the gap and officially tied it up 52-52 on a Hield layup with 8:29 remaining in the game. A minute later, it was still tied at 54 at the under-8 media timeout.
The Sooners scored the next four points on free throws from Woodard and a layup from Hield, but Niang quickly drew a foul and converted two freebies of his own. That's when "Hilton South" started to come to life.
Sensing the emerging crowd support, veteran coach Lon Kruger called a timeout to try to quiet the Cyclone faithful in the stands. Unfortunately for Kruger, Iowa State came out of the timeout and hit back-to-back three pointers to put the Cyclones up four, 62-58.
Isaiah Cousins answered the second ISU three with a long ball of his own, and the game was back to a one point deficit. Iowa State held onto a slim 62-61 lead at the final media break.
The first two minutes following the timeout were the Jameel McKay show. The junior checked in during the break and rebounded, blocked two shots and scored on a dunk to put the Cyclones up 64-61. Niang added a fadeaway bank shot from 10 feet and ISU led by five.
Spangler made a layup with 1:38 left in the game to once again pull it into a one possession game. Monte Morris missed a 15 foot jumper on the following possession, but McKay was there once again to haul in the rebound. Thomas then fouled McKay, sending him to the line for a 1-and-1.
The Cyclone crowd let out a collective *gasp* as the front end of McKay's shot ricocheted off the rim, but Niang crossed through the lane and came up with the offensive rebound, getting ISU another possession. The bad part was, Iowa State came up empty on the ensuing possession and TaShawn Thomas scored a layup with 12 seconds left to pull Oklahoma within one.
The Cyclones inbounded the ball and Niang was fouled by Hield, sending him to the line for two free throws. ESPN's Brent Musburger mentioned the free throw streak Niang was currently on, so naturally the star forward missed his first shot. Niang made the second and Iowa State led by two.
On their last possession, Oklahoma inbounded the ball and drove the length of the floor, then found Spangler wide open in the lane. Despite not having anyone within five feet of him, Spangler missed the bunny and that was all she wrote as time expired.
If last night showcased Iowa State's star players in Morris and Niang, tonight showcased the Cyclones' ability to play as a team. Niang led the way with 13 points, followed by McKay with 12, Morris with 11, Dejean-Jones with 10, Long with 8, Nader with 7 and Dustin Hogue with 6. It was a textbook example of "spreading the wealth".
On the boards, McKay hauled in 9, with Niang grabbing 8 and Hogue adding 5.
After starting the game 0-9 from 3-point range, Iowa State went 7-10 from there on out, coming to a total of 7-19 (36.8 percent). Not the best shooting night for the Cyclones, but just good enough to get the job done.
Iowa State advances to the Big 12 Championship title game against the Kansas Jayhawks. That game will tip tomorrow at 5 p.m. CST and be aired on ESPN.