It was March 2nd. Iowa State was coming off of back to back heart breaking losses to Baylor at Hilton and against K-State. They were also trailing Oklahoma by 22, they were on the brink of back to back home losses. Fred then did his magic in the locker room, and the Cyclones stormed back and won 77-70. The game following, the Cyclones trailed by double digits in Fort Worth but again, they rallied and won. The Big 12 Tournament had the same theme, ISU trailed by double digits against Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. They won all of those games en route to a second straight Big 12 championship.
That championship run led to the Cyclones being selected as a 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, facing UAB. Not only was the whole country picking ISU to beat UAB, they were a trendy final four pick. Iowa State and super high expectations, what could go wrong? Well a lot went wrong, actually. About everything we could've possibly imagined on that March morning.
Where did it start? Well I'm not here to place blame, but much of it would go with the frosted tips. Monte Morris and Jameel McKay decided to change their hair right before the NCAA tournament.
I don't believe in superstition, but this little change in style is something that will always be affiliated with this game, and something that some Iowa State fans will blame for the loss.
The game started with Iowa State getting off to a quick 12-2 start. Shots were falling and they were playing defense. Then, Bryce Dejean-Jones checked in, and the game changed. After a few turnovers and missed shots by everyone, UAB went on a 14-2 run to tie the game. From that point on, nothing was the same. Shots weren't falling, and there no sense of urgency.
Iowa State trailed 31-28 at the half, even though they were the hottest team in the country and had comeback wins in their last 5 games. Most thought they would win with ease, despite the deficit, but the second half wasn't any better than the first.
After Iowa State opened the half on a 6-0 run, many thought this was the run that would give ISU control. But no, the energy still was sucked out of the building, and shots were still not falling. This was every Cyclone fan’s worst nightmare.
The Blazers and Cyclones traded buckets the entire second half. With 3 minutes left, Iowa State made back to back layups, then drained a couple free throws to take a 55-51 lead. UAB stormed back with a 5-0 run before Monte Morris hit a jumper with 41 seconds left to give Iowa State the lead.
William Lee responded with a jumper of his own with 26 seconds left. UAB had the lead and Iowa State had the ball. Georges Niang misses a jumper. Next thing you know, UAB is at the free throw line with a chance to seal the upset. William Lee drained both, and gave the Blazers a 3 point lead. Naz Long got a great look but it was off the front of the rim, and that was it. Game over.
Iowa State shot 36% from the field and 26% from three. This wasn't just any Iowa State team, as it had six guys sign an NBA contract. Arguably the most talented Cyclone team ever suffered one of the biggest upsets in Iowa State history, and I really hope you can forget this ever happened.