Iowa State Basketball Improves NCAA Tournament Position, After Overcoming 21-Point Deficit To Defeat Oklahoma 77-70

The Iowa State men’s basketball team overcame a sluggish start to earn a huge come-from-behind victory over No. 15 Oklahoma Sooners, 77-70, at the Hilton Coliseum on Monday night. The No. 17 Cyclones used a 22-0 run to erase an early 21-point second half deficit, which ties the largest comeback victory in school history.

So how did it happen?

With Oklahoma leading 48-28, Sooner guard Isaiah Cousins did something he now probably wishes he didn’t do. Cousins woke up the sleeping giant, which in this case, was the entire Cyclone squad.

Following a blocked shot by Oklahoma’s Ryan Spangler on a Georges Niang layup attempt, Cousins was whistled for a technical foul for yelling something profane at the Iowa State bench, according to Jeff Eisenberg of the Daggar on Yahoo Sports.

Niang, who scored 20 of his 23 points in the second half, sank the subsequent two technical foul shots and the Cyclones were off and running.

“When someone gets up in your face and [is] telling you how they’re kicking your butt, you’re going to retaliate in some way,” Niang said. “Luckily, we retaliated the right way. That was just the push that we needed.”

Niang’s free throws ignited a 22-0 Iowa State run over a 5 minute 16 second stretch and culminated with a three-pointer by Dustin Hogue to give the Cyclones a 50-48 lead with 9:39 remaining. The Cyclones tallied points on seven consecutive possessions during the run while Oklahoma missed all six of their shot attempts from the field, and both of their free throw attempts. Monte Morris tallied 10 points, including two triples, during ISU’s spurt.

Oklahoma knotted the game up at 52-52 on a pair of free throws by the game’s leading scorer Buddy Heild, who had 26 points. Niang then took over the game, scoring seven straight points, including a three-pointer to put the Cyclones up 59-52 at the 6:46 mark.

The Sooners (20-9, 11-6 Big 12) cut the lead to 59-56 but the Cyclones once again had an answer, going on a 6-0 spurt. Oklahoma was not able to get closer than six points the rest of the way as the Cyclones outscored the Sooners 59-33 in the half.

The game was certainly a tale of two half for Iowa State. The Cyclones shot 33.3 percent (8-of-24) from the field, committed 10 turnovers, and tallied a season-low 18 points as they trailed by 19 at halftime (37-18). In the second half, Iowa State knocked down 58.3 percent of their shots and was 6-of-11 from long-range. The Cyclones’ 58 points were a season-high for points in a half.

Niang registered his second consecutive 20-point game and seventh of the season to lead Iowa State. Niang was 8-of-14 from the floor and 5-of-5 from the free throw line. He also hauled in eight rebounds and doled out five assists.

Morris was just as difficult for the Sooners to defend. The 6-foot-2 point guard carved up the Sooners defense for 19 points, five assists, and three rebounds. He was 8-of-14 from the field and 3-of-3 from beyond the arc.

“Niang off the dribble was tough,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger told the Des Moines Register‘s Randy Peterson. “(Monte) off the dribble was tough creating opportunities for him.”

Jameel McKay added 14 points and 12 rebounds for his third double-double in the last five games, while Dustin Hogue tallied seven points and grabbed 10 rebounds, making it the second time this season he has reached double figures in rebounds.

With the victory, Iowa State improves to 21-8 overall and 11-6 in the Big 12. The Cyclones must earn a win at TCU on Saturday in order to be guaranteed a two or three seed in the conference tournament. A loss to the Horned Frog could cause the Cyclones to drop to as low as a No. 5 seed.

Iowa State saw immediate dividends of their victory over Oklahoma, as they jumped five places in Gary Parrish’s CBS Sports Top 25 and One Daily Poll. The Cyclones moved from number 19-to-15.

More importantly, the win should improve Iowa State’s seeding on Selection Sunday. The Cyclones, with the win over the Sooners, earned their seventh win against ranked opponents (7-4) and are now 10-5 against Top 50 RPI teams. Iowa State owns a RPI of 14 and has played the 14th toughest schedule in nation.

[Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images]