Fred Hoiberg cut down the nets and twirled them around to the fans following Iowa State’s 74-65 victory over Baylor, winning the Big 12 championship for the first time since 2000.
It was a brutal start for the Cyclones (26-7, 11-7), who couldn’t get anything going against Baylor’s zone defense. They missed their first 13 shots of the game. However, they still kept battling, forcing the ball inside and at least being able to get to the free throw line. Getting 7-of-12 from the charity stripe was a crucial part of their offense early, as points were at a premium. They finished making 18-of-24 free throws.
Even more crucial was getting those fouls tallied up among the opponent, weakening the toughness of the zone. Iowa State was able to score easier, still continuing to go inside. After the atrocious 0-and-13 start, the Cyclones hit 24-of-35 the rest of the way, an impressive 68.5 percent from the field. That also helped them finish with an incredibly efficient 8-of-15 from 3-point range.
Four Iowa State starters, and Naz Long, scored in double digits. DeAndre Kane led the way, finishing with a game-high 17 points, seven assists, and seven rebounds. Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang were close to hitting double-doubles, finishing with 10 points and 13 points respectively, and both had nine rebounds. Dustin Hogue had 12 points and seven rebounds.
While Baylor has the size advantage to grab rebounds, Iowa State killed the boards with a 38-28 advantage. They did a tremendous job boxing out and lot letting the opponent receive many opportunities for second-chance points.
The Bears (24-11, 9-9) couldn’t take advantage of Iowa State’s poor start. They too had an awful night offensively. Outside of starting out hot from downtown, they couldn’t get anything going in the second half to prevent Iowa State from coming back. Brady Heslip hit two 3-pointers inside the first four minutes but went 2-of-4 from the field (all from long range) in the final 36 minutes. He finished with 14 points. Kenny Chery had a team-high 16 points, making 5-of-12 from the field and hitting all five free throw attempts.
Iowa State awaits where they will be seeded in the NCAA tournament. The announcements will begin Sunday night at 5:00 PM Central time on CBS. The Cyclones will most likely receive a three seed in the tournament, although there is a chance that the committee could boost them up to a two seed.