Would somebody please blow somebody out of the gym. I can't take this anymore.
Another close game, down to the wire, in a series that has been marked by overtimes and last second shots.
This time Jameel McKay set the table, but George Niang closed the door.
McKay put up 17 pts and 14 boards, while Niang, quiet and in foul trouble most of the night, hit the biggest shot of the game to put Iowa state up by 3 with 20.9 seconds remaining, and that's all they would need.
What was an otherwise fantastic game was marred by suspect officiating, with late whistles and mystery calls commonplace, and some poor announcing from the ESPN crew.
The Cowboys led by 4 with 2:27 remaining, but the Cyclones would go on a 9-0 run to finish the game. Niang would score 4 of his 9 points in that time span.
The lead changed hands a LOT, and OSU kept finding ways to stay in it despite the disappearance of Nash, and some struggles by Phil Forte. Anthony Hickey and Jeff Newberry carried the day in the first half.
This game, though, came down to one thing.
- Shot better from the floor (44.7% - 39.3%)
- Shot better from three (44.4% - 30%)
- Shot better from the line (75% - 66.7)
But they lost badly in one of most important battles on the floor:
- Outrebounded 44-28
- Gave up 18 offensive rebounds
McKay was the main culprit, grabbing half of the offensive boards. A beast the entire evening, neither Cobbins nor Solomon could stop him. The Cyclones spread out OSU and beat them off the dribble a number of times, leading to help defense and leaving McKay waiting for a miss.
Despite that, the Cowboys scrapped and clawed, finding ways to keep things tight. Make no mistake, the Cyclones are a very good team.
Besides the rebounding, another astonishing number was the shooting. After weeks of hoping other players would step up to help out the scoring, OSU ended up 21-47 from the floor, 8-18 from behind the arc.
Forte and Nash were 7-24, the rest of the team 14-23. Forte was 3-8 from deep (including several blocks), Newberry/Hickey/Shine/Hammonds were 5-10. Teams have essentially focused all their efforts on Nash and Forte, and are daring anyone else to hurt them. They almost pulled it off.
Nash was only a factor for a few minutes near the end. After a tough start he became tentative, and never seemed comfortable offensively. His missed alley oop to Cobbins was historically bad, and his turnover late after getting deep in the lane led to Niang's heroics.
OSU did get a good look to tie with 6 seconds remaining, but Newberry chose a poor time to record his only miss of the game. The Cyclones sealed it with two FT's.
So, after reeling off 3 consecutive wins over ranked teams for the first time in school history, the Cowboys now find themselves on the bad end of a two game losing streak, with #23 West Virginia coming to town Saturday at 1pm. That will be followed by a road trip to Tech (where this same Iowa State team LOST), TCU in Stillwater (who OSU just lost to), and then a road trip to Morgantown to finish things off (that's never a great thing, right?). This is a very dangerous position for the Pokes. They still stand a very good chance of going 9-9 in the Big 12, and that should be plenty for The Dance. Win one of the games with West Virgininia and take care of TCU and Tech, and they get to 20 wins. I think everyone would have taken that at the beginning of the season. A .500 conference record would definitely place them higher than the pre-season prediction of 8th, and would likely go down as Ford's best coaching job to date.
Still a lot of hoops to play before we go there...
Here are your game stats, courtesy of ESPN: