It took a little bit longer than they expected, but No. 16 Iowa State got the win they needed.
The Cyclones outlasted No. 19 Oklahoma State in a way-too-empty Gallagher-Iba Arena on Monday night, winning 98-97 in a triple-overtime thriller that did well to remind the nation that it is, in fact, basketball season.
DeAndre Kane led five players in double-figures for Iowa State, finishing with 26 points, nine boards and nine assists, while Melvin Ejim and and Dustin Hogue combined to go for 32 points and 26 boards in the win. More impressive? The win came with Georges Niang on the bench with five fouls for the entire overtime, a major blow especially when you consider that Iowa State built their gameplan offensively around him.
The biggest play of the night came at the end of the second overtime. With Iowa State down three, Matt Thomas missed a three pointer, but Kane was able to corral the offensive rebound. Instead of hoisting up a contested triple — which would have been the third terrible shot he had taken in the final minutes — Kane gave the ball up to Naz Long, who buried a three to tie the game:
Long had missed his last nine three pointers on the season.
Iowa State took control at the end of the third overtime, but things got interesting when they turned the ball over with 20 seconds left and a one point lead. But Oklahoma State settled for two fadeaway jumpers, both of which came up short, and that was that.
The enormity of this win for the Cyclones really cannot be overstated.
For starters, the Cyclones actually beat a good team on the road, something that the Cyclones have developed a reputation for being unable to do the past couple of seasons. That’s big for their tournament resume and, quite frankly, for their reputation on a national level. It’s one thing to ride the wave of Hilton Magic. It’s another thing to go on the road in February and beat a team with a first team all-american on it.
This also is a shot in the arm in terms of confidence. Iowa State had lost four of their last five games and three in a row heading into the month of February, but in the last three days, they’ve landed wins over both Big 12 teams from the state of Oklahoma. Not only does get the Cyclones back above .500 — to 5-4 — in league play, it means that they’re now through their schedule’s most brutal stretch. Iowa State had played eight straight games against teams that are ranked now or were ranked when they played them.
Their next six games? TCU, at West Virginia, Texas Tech, Texas, at TCU, West Virginia.
Is this when the Cyclones make their run?