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Recap: Iowa State Falls Short in Comeback Bid Against Gonzaga

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Deonte Burton played the best game of his career, but it wasn’t enough to take down the Bulldogs.

NCAA Basketball: Citadel at Iowa State Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa State found themselves down 49-34 at halftime with the game looking like it might turn into a blowout. But this Cyclone team didn’t give up. Behind the stellar play of Deonte Burton, ISU mounted a second-half comeback, but ultimately fell short by a final score of 73-71.

The Cyclones had one final shot on a sideline inbound with five seconds remaining in the game. Monte Morris got the inbound at the top of the key and dished to Naz Mitrou-Long in for what appeared to be the primary look out of the set. However, Mitrou-Long was swarmed by three of Gonzaga’s lanky defenders and had to make a desperation pass to Morris on the wing. Morris’ 3-pointer to win was no good, and it would have been released after the buzzer anyway.

The win gives Gonzaga a great addition to their NCAA Tournament resume, over an Iowa State team who they very well could be going up against for seeding at the end of the season. The loss is ISU’s first on the season, dropping them to 5-1 overall.

Burton ended with a line of 29 points (a career high), 12 rebounds and 2 blocks in a dominant effort. The only other Iowa State players to score in double digits were Mitrou-Long and Morris with 16 and 14 points, respectively. Mitrou-Long added 9 rebounds and Morris tallied 9 assists as well.

Gonzaga was red-hot in the first half, shooting well over their season averages from the field and 3-point range. They cooled off considerably in the second half, largely due to an improved effort on the defensive floor from the Cyclones. The Bulldogs finished with a 49.1% mark from the field while going 13/25 from downtown. Meanwhile, ISU shot 43.9% and hit 8/24 of their 3-pointers.

Quick Thoughts

  • After cutting the lead to 72-71 with just over three minutes left in the game, 3/5 (4/6 if you count the post-buzzer shot from Morris) of Iowa State’s shots were 3-pointers, and none of them were entirely clean looks. The Cyclones largely abandoned what got them back in the game and it ended up dooming them. Would we be saying the same thing if one of those threes had gone in? Maybe not... But shot selection definitely wasn’t the best down the stretch.
  • The defense clamped down in the second half. After giving up 49 points in the first stanza, the Cyclones surrendered just 24 in the final 20 minutes. It took a brilliant day shooting the ball (especially in the first half) for Gonzaga to pull off the win.
  • Not a great game from Matt Thomas. The senior guard had just 2 points and went 1/6 from the field, including 0/4 from 3-point range. It’s not like he wasn’t in the game much either, as he played 29 of 40 possible minutes.
  • Meanwhile, Gonzaga’s Nigel Williams-Goss, who had made 3/12 shots from long range coming into today, had a great day shooting the ball, hitting on 6/8 3-pointers. This is coming from a guy who’s never averaged more than 3 ATTEMPTS per game coming into this season.
  • Bench productivity wasn’t good in this one for ISU. The three players who did make it into the game off the bench — Darrell Bowie, Nick Weiler-Babb, and Donovan Jackson — combined for 2 points, 4 rebounds and 1 assist. They basically served the purpose of giving the starters a chance to catch their breath in today’s game.
  • Iowa State has pulled in more offensive rebounds than their opponents in all six games this season. Today, they had 13 offensive boards to Gonzaga’s 9 even though the Zags had more size than ISU at nearly every position.

The next game for the Cyclones is against Cincinnati in Hilton Coliseum. The game is on Thursday at 8 p.m. CST and will be televised on ESPN.