Caught in a Cyclone: ISU hammers No. 1 Houston



KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Keshon Gilbert wrapped up a spectacular Big 12 tournament for Iowa State with 16 points, and the seventh-ranked Cyclones blitzed No. 1 Houston to begin the second half Saturday night, allowing them to roll to a 69-41 win and their sixth championship in six appearances in the title game.

Milan Momcilovic had 18 points and Hason Ward scored 13 for the Cyclones (27-7), who have beaten five different programs to raise the trophy, including Oklahoma, which at the time was led by current Cougars coach Kelvin Sampson.

He probably felt even worse than he did in 2000. Iowa State turned a 30-23 lead at halftime into the kind of blowout Sampson has rarely experienced with an 18-3 run to start the second half. That gave the thousands of Cyclones fans who paint Kansas City red and yellow every March plenty of reasons to stand on their feet and roar their approval.

It doesn’t seem to matter who is coaching them, either. T.J. Otzelberger is the fourth to win the tournament for Iowa State.

Jamal Shead had 10 points on 3-for-17 shooting for Houston (30-4), which was outscored 39-18 in the second half. L.J. Cryer was held to seven points and Emanuel Sharp to five as the Cougars shot 4 of 22 from the 3-point arc and 15 of 56 from the field.

Iowa State built its halftime lead by playing the role of Houston better than Houston.

The preternaturally poised Cyclones never wavered when they fell into an early hole. They exhibited some exquisite interior ball movement for easy layups when the Cougars’ guards tried to lock down the perimeter. And when they got those buckets to go, it freed up Momcilovic and the rest of the Iowa State sharpshooters to begin draining 3-pointers.

On the other end, the Cyclones forced Shead into off-balance runners and long 3s at the end of the shot clock; the Big 12 player of the year — and defensive player of the year — went 2 for 11 in the first half, and it didn’t get any better in the second.

Cougars big man J’Wan Roberts was largely ineffective, too, after hurting his right leg and playing sparingly in their semifinal rout of Texas Tech. He started the game and played 13 first-half minutes before sitting out the second half.

He probably wouldn’t have made a difference the way the Cyclones were rolling. They scored the first 10 points as part of their run to start the second half, and Momcilovic’s 3 from in front of his bench pushed their lead to 48-23 with 12:40 to go.

Resorting to desperation shots, the Cougars went 9½ minutes without a field goal as the game got away from them.

Iowa State will likely be a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament and could get a favorable landing spot in Omaha, Nebraska, for the opening weekend. Omaha is only about a 2½-hour drive from Iowa State’s campus in Ames, Iowa.

Houston almost certainly had locked up a No. 1 seed for the NCAA tourney. The question now is whether the selection committee would put the Cougars in the same region as Iowa State to set up a potential rematch.



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