Despite everything going Baylor’s way in the opening minutes and compiling multiple efforts to pull away, Iowa State basketball responded all night long. Unfortunately, the Cyclones couldn’t deliver the final dagger to win a game full of runs in Waco.
Based on reaction after the game, most people seemed to be upset about Kenny Chery’s push off on Monte Morris and then Georges Niang’s decision on the final possession. First, let’s look at the alleged pushoff.
I’m a person that always wants play to continue over calling something questionable in the final minutes, and this is one of them. Morris was pushed, but he clearly tried selling it too. The push off wasn’t significant enough to call in my eyes.
As for Niang’s decision to force up a tough running shot, it’s easier for us to see Bryce Dejean-Jones wide open on TV than it is for Niang to actually be on the court with less than three seconds to make a decision. Still, he volunteered to take the blame.
Jameel McKay even is taking the loss personal.
Neither Niang nor McKay had their greatest game, but nothing to really hang their head low on. Niang struggled again for over 30 minutes, but really showed up down the stretch. He ended up with 10 points and five rebounds. McKay finished with eight points, but that all happened in the first half.
The bench that had 13 points at halftime just scored one point combined in the second half.
Honestly, Iowa State being in position to win this game was amazing in itself. They were down 16-1 before the casual person could grab a beer from the fridge and sit down. Baylor couldn’t miss from the field and they hit eight of their nine total 3-pointers in the first half.
Multiple runs by Iowa State in the first half kept it close before Baylor pulled away and took a 12-point halftime lead. Again, the Cyclones eventually chipped away at the lead and even took the lead on a BDJ 3-pointer. Prior to that, Naz Long made all five 3-point attempts in the second half to aid in the comeback.
Jan 14, 2015; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears forward Rico Gathers (2) goes for a loose ball during the game against the Iowa State Cyclones at Ferrell Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Unfortunately, Iowa State fell just short of turning the comeback attempt into a victory and would lose their first conference game of the season.
Instead of blaming the refs or Niang’s decision, there’s plenty of other things to point to. If you’re going to blame Niang, it’s more of a disappointment that he isn’t putting a full 40 minutes together. We know this guy is great, and so does the nation. He just needs to get his shots to fall consistently.
Rebounding and free throws are a huge concern. The Cyclones are slightly undersized in this matchup, but not worthy of losing by a 44-32 rebounding margin. ISU needs to hit the freebies, but went just 11-of-19 from the charity stripe. They had 12 more free throw attempts than the Bears but couldn’t capitalize.
A good thing was the return of “Hoiball” as we know it. Iowa State did astounding in assists to field goals made (20 assists, 26 FGM) and shot 52.6 percent from downtown (10-for-19).
It’s a tough loss to take, but Baylor ultimately deserved the win and was able to finally take it at the end. Iowa State falls to 12-3 overall and 2-1 in the conference; they also fall to 2-10 in Waco. They will try to rebound at home when College GameDay and Kansas comes to Ames, where there will certainly be no signs of less “sizzle.” Tipoff is Saturday at 8:00 PM Central time and it will be televised on ESPN and streamed on WatchESPN.
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