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Snakebit: Was The Florida A&M Loss REALLY the Worst Loss in CycloneMBB History?

For the 2010s, most likely. All time? Hmm...

ISU Athletics

The loss to Florida A&M on December 31st was likely the worst loss of the 2010s.

The Rattlers (1-9), a 25.5 underdog and 0-106 all time against major conference teams, finally got their win.

For the purposes of this quick research, I’m limiting it to non-conference opponents only.

Who cares if we lost to Washington (Mo.) in February 1923 when we were both part of the Missouri Valley?

Not I. Strap in and buckle up for some very bad overtime wins and losses.

Losses to Marathon Oil and EA Sports are covered here.

Happy 2020!

Before we get started, I have to introduce my loss/overtime win computer.

The “UABBLAZER” is a Universal Agonizing Basket Ball Loss AnalyZER.

If a game is won by Iowa State in regulation, the score is zero, the best possible result.

However, a loss or win in overtime, and the number starts to grow.

Start with one of these numbers if the game your curious about is a loss or an overtime win.

1 = loss

0.5 = overtime win

+seed difference if in NCAA tourney


x2 home loss

x1.5 road loss

x1.25 neutral loss

x1 overtime win


+1 D1

+25 D2

+50 D3

+100 NAIA

Margin of loss:

+ (points)

Margin of OT win:

- (points)

Opponent Win Percentage before game:

<.100: x10

<.250: x5

<.500: x3

>.501: x1

Opponent Wins after season end:

1-7: x10

8-14: x5

>15: x1

Now that we have UABBLAZER in mind, we can apply it to specific games.


February 17, 1934 - @ Rockhurst University

I’m not particularly sure what division Rockhurst held in 1934, but they are currently in the GLVC in Division II.

Rockhurst scored early and often, and after two minutes their lead was insurmountable.

The Cyclones were down 22 to 14 at half.

Cyclone forward Jack Cowen scored 11 points to pace the Cyclones in the 28-35 loss.


December 21, 1955 - @ Denver University

The 1955-56 Cyclones were a unique team. They beat #8 Vanderbilt, won the 1955 Big Seven Holiday Tournament and after being ranked #8, they lost to Kansas State at home.

Additionally, they finished the year 18-5 and T-2 in the Big Seven.

711 miles to the west of the Armory is where Iowa State College took on a middle of the road Skyline Conference team.

The Pioneers were led by Dick Brott who had 17.1 ppg over his career (7th best at Denver) and 15 rpg (best at Denver).

Iowa State notably had junior Gary Thompson (19.1 ppg and 4.7 rpg) and sophomore John Crawford (13.5 and 9.7) to pace the Cyclones.

This was not Iowa State’s game as they shot 24.7% from the field whereas the Pioneers hit 41.3 of their shots. The Cyclones had two leads, 14-13 around the 12:00 mark and and 24-23 with 7 minutes remaining in the first half. Denver would go on a 15-4 run to end the half.

Gary Thompson would pace the Cyclones back from a 60-44 deficit, to make it 64-62 with 24 seconds left, but as Ames Daily Tribune shares “The Cyclones got the ball again but missed the final shot to lose.”

Because Denver played only two games prior to this, the win percentage variable is taken out.


Springing from earth like a poised cat, Dave Collins proved himself quite a jumper as well as a shooter.
1968 Bomb

December 8, 1967 - @ San Fernando State (Cal State Northridge since 1973)

I first learned about this loss from Zaid Abdul-Aziz’s book Darkness to Sunlight. If ever an Iowa State team was looking forward to the next opponent, this would be it. Our Cyclones went west to face San Fernando State on December 8th, and the following day to face Lew Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and #1 UCLA.

Matador ‘69

This D2 CCAA team had the following roster:

#10 Jerry Rivlin - Guard | #11 Jess DeMarco - Guard | #15 Vic Katch- Guard

#23 Doug Sinning - Forward | #24 George Robinson - Forward

#30 Bob Bartlett - Guard | #31 Ben Williams - Forward | #32 Floyd Sanders - Guard

#33 Jerry Joseph - Forward/Guard |#34 Tony Pazaricky - Forward | #40 Bruce Pelkey - Center

#41 Tom Rugg - Forward/Center | #42 Loren Bracci - Forward

In the limited details I have of this game, the Cyclones led only for a little bit early before turnovers plagued the team. Abdul-Aziz was held to 17 points, but he still pulled down 24 rebounds in the game.

The 40% shooting Cyclones were down 35-29 at half and hit 20/27 from the charity stripe.

Pazaricky and Katch led the Matador stampede with 25 and 18 points respectively.

Because of the margin of loss and division of opponent, we have a new high UABBLAZER result of 101.5.

Iowa State Men’s Basketball - Twitter

November 28, 1981 - @ Eastern Montana College (MSU Billings since 1994)

If the Rattlers bit, these Yellowjackets stung Iowa State bad. EMC shot over 80% in the second half to pull away from a 33-29 halftime lead.

This D2 team was 3-0 in their games coming into this game, and later this season they’d beat Washington State in 3OT.

1,692 saw the Yellowjackets win 66-55 and a UABBLAZER result of 37.5.

Paul Beene, Ron Virgil, Barry Stevens, Wes Wallace checking out Gators at the 1982 Gator Bowl Classic.
Iowa State Men’s Basketball - Twitter

December 28, 1982 - @ Jacksonville (Gator Bowl Classic)

Our Cyclones maybe should’ve focused more on the Dolphins than local Gators, as yet again ISU was out-rebounded and out-hustled in this game. Barry Stevens often looked lost, per the local Tribune recap.

Ames Tribune | December 29th, 1982

Jacksonville was 4-4 before this game and finished the season 7-22 (0-14 Sun Belt), so I’m worried what the UABBLAZER result will be.

542.25. Granted, Iowa State was 13-15 this season, but yikes. Maybe I’m doing my math wrong; I do study journalism and sociology after all.

Scroll through this fast, as I’m calculating two NCAA Tournament upsets.

March 15, 2001 - vs. 15 seed Hampton

This game was a 18.25.

March 19, 2015 - vs. 14 seed UAB

The UABBLAZER result is a 16.6875.

Milwaukee Athletics

November 13, 2017 - vs. UW-Milwaukee

This game wasn’t great, but it still registers a 21 on my scale.

The Florida A&M game is currently a 32.

Are we done? Nope it’s time for


It’s likely you were wondering while reading this, “overtime win, how does that factor into this?” I figure if we take a D2 or lower division team to overtime, that should count against us.

Photo by ISU Athletics Communications

December 1, 1973 - vs. Western Illinois

In a game that likely had the highest amount of Bob/Bobby against a Cyclone squad, there was a bit of trouble against this then Division 2 opponent.

The Cyclones led 61-50 before the Leathernecks pawed their way back.

If it wasn’t for an Eric Heft basket with eight seconds in regulation, the Cyclones would succumb to the Cagers from Macomb.

Ames Daily Tribune | December 3rd, 1973

This game registers a 23.

Jamaal Tinsley #11

November 21, 2000 - vs. Morningside

The same year we lost to Hampton, we really took Morningside to overtime. Nothing against these NAIA based Mustangs but geez, this should be an addendum to the 100 Things series.

From the official recap: “Morningside (2-1) battled back from a 13-point deficit midway through the second half and sent the game into overtime on a 3-pointer by Derek Paben with 4.3 seconds to play that tied the score at 88.” Sounds about right.

Morningside had a successful season, yet this score still registers a 96.

UABBLAZER Scoreboard:

  1. 1982 @ Jacksonville - 542.25
  2. 1967 @ San Fernando State - 101.5
  3. 2000 vs. Morningside - 96
  4. 1981 @ Eastern Montana - 37.5
  5. 2019 vs. Florida A&M - 32
  6. 1973 vs. Western Illinois - 23
  7. 2017 vs. UW-Milwaukee - 21
  8. 2001 vs. 15 seed Hampton - 18.25
  9. 1955 @ Denver - 17.5
  10. 2015 vs. 14 seed UAB - 16.6875