Iowa State survived two potential game-winning shots from Texas Tech and won 82-80 in overtime. After two missed free throws from Nick Weiler-Babb, the Red Raiders failed to get a shot off with a chance to tie or win. The Cyclones moved to 18-9 overall, 10-5 in the Big 12, and for the moment, hold a half-game lead for second place in the conference. It was the Cyclones’ fifth conference road win — the most since they won the Big 12 in 2000-01.
Iowa State was carried by the hot shooting of senior guards Naz Mitrou-Long and Matt Thomas in the first half. The senior duo combined for 28 of Iowa State’s 39 first-half points. Thomas led the Cyclones with 16 at the break, and a late Monte Morris 3-pointer tied the game at 39. It was the ninth 3-pointer of the half for Iowa State.
A back-and-forth affair, the Cyclones finally put some pressure on the Red Raiders in the second half, jumping out to an eight-point lead, 58-50. Texas Tech, who beat West Virginia and Baylor at United Supermarkets Arena earlier this season, hung around before pulling even after a couple of free throws from Keenan Evans. Tied at 73, Morris turned the ball over on a questionable over-and-back call. The Red Raiders were left with 1.6 seconds to get a shot off. Zach Smith got a contested jumper off, but the ball hit short, and we went to overtime.
Matt Thomas got the Cyclones off to a strong start in the overtime, scoring his first points since the first half. With Deonte Burton and Mitrou-Long fouled out, Iowa State struggled to get anything going on offense in the extra period. Texas Tech capitalize, taking a lead on a 3-pointer from Justin Gray. Donovan Jackson hit two big free throws to retake the lead, and Iowa State got some key defensive rebounds from Solomon Young, Weiler-Babb, and Thomas.
Clinging to a two-point lead, Weiler-Babb missed two free throws with six seconds left that could have sealed the game. Instead, the Red Raiders pushed the ball up the floor, where Evans was cut off by two Cyclone defenders. Evans handed off to Smith who was thwarted by Young. Smith kicked it out, and Devon Thomas hit a deep 3-pointer. But the shot came well after the buzzer, and the Cyclones escaped with a win in Lubbock that has been all-too-elusive in the last six years. Morris led the Cyclones with 23 points while Thomas added 20.
- It was ugly, but there’s no such thing as a bad road win in the Big 12, especially in overtime with two of your best players on the bench.
- Morris has been the player we all expected at the beginning of the season, taking over primary scoring duties and creating for his teammates.
- Prohm’s decision to move Morris off the ball with baseline screens has made a huge difference in Iowa State’s offensive cohesion. Morris is more of a threat to create off the curl than Thomas and Mitrou-Long, and when combined with his pick-and-roll game, Morris is an even more difficult player to guard.
- Young’s line of 6 points and 8 rebounds might not jump off the page, but it’s exactly what the Cyclones have been missing. Young played great defense on Smith down the stretch while corralling a couple of huge rebounds and hitting two free throws in overtime.
- Prohm chuckled at a question early in the season about Mitrou-Long and Thomas’ outside shooting struggles. He said he wasn’t worried, and we’re seeing why now. Of course we’ve seen Mitrou-Long and Thomas hit a lot of threes in Cyclone uniforms, but they’re hitting at a clip right now that can help a team overcome other deficiencies.
- The dolts at ESPN continue to push the narrative that Iowa State’s offense is the only show in town, but it continues to be its defense that is the true difference maker. It wasn’t always great Monday night, but opposing offenses have to work much harder this season than they have in the past.
- Iowa State beat a decent team on the road, and Deonte Burton had one of his worst games of the season. That shows just how solid the Cyclones are playing right now. We know Burton will be back at some point.
Next Up: vs. No. 9 Baylor, 3 p.m. CST, ESPN