I mean, wow. What else can you say? Iowa State was dead. Not just dead, but the funeral processional had left the cemetery and the dirt was being piled on the casket. But I guess that's why we keep watching. A technical foul on Oklahoma's Isaiah Cousins ignited a rally the likes of which we've possibly never seen within the walls of Hilton Coliseum as Iowa State notched a critical 77-70 victory.
The Cyclones were abysmal in the first half and trailed by 19 at the break. That's not a misprint. Oklahoma actually led 37-18 at half time. The second half appeared to be going the same way as the Sooners stretched the lead to 21 at one point. And then it happened.
At the 14:55 mark, Georges Niang had his shot rejected by Ryan Spanger and in the following celebration, Cousins was T'd up. Niang knocked down both of the free throws and the comeback was on.
Niang and Monte Morris scored the next 15 points of the game as Iowa State cut the lead to 5 at the 12-minute mark. The run continued with a steal by Morris and dunk by Dustin Hogue. On the next possession, Morris hit another lay up in the lane (but missed the and-1 free throw attempt). After another defensive stop, Iowa State took their first lead of the night on a corner three-pointer by Dustin Hogue.
Tashawn Thomas temporarily stopped the bleeding by knocking down a pair of free throws for Oklahoma on the following possession, but the damage had been done. Over the course of 5 minutes and 14 seconds of game time, Iowa State went on a 22-0 run and Hilton Coliseum was absolutely electric.
The prolonged stretch of dominance continued though, as Niang ripped off 7-straight points of his own to build the Cyclones' first cushion of the night. Much maligned for his play in the closing minutes of losses to Baylor and Kansas State, Niang was simply unguardable during the comeback and finished the night with 23 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists (and just 1 turnover).
Not to be outdone, Morris was just as critical. The dynamite sophomore scored 19 points and dished out 5 assists while also shouldering the load with Niang.
Niang and Morris keyed a 59-point second half where they went on to outscore Oklahoma by 26 points. For the game Oklahoma only shot 35.5% from the floor and hit just 6-24 from deep. The Sooners got to the line 12 more times, but Iowa State hot second half shooting nullifed that advantage.
Jameel McKay was Iowa State's only offense for most of the first half and finished the game with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Dustin Hogue was also a factor on the glass, pulling down 10 rebounds in his final game in Hilton Coliseum.
The win puts the Cyclones into a tie with the Sooners for second place in the league and with Kansas still having to play two more games, Iowa State still could conceivably tie for the Big 12 championship. The Jayhawks host West Virginia on Tuesday night.
Iowa State needed this win, but more importantly, maybe they needed a win in this fashion. This is never how you would draw it up, but we've been waiting for this team to "wake up" and they did just that in the second half.
We'll talk more about this game in the coming days, but that's enough for tonight. Enjoy it boys and go Cyclones!