"The number one part of our gameplan was to make it difficult for him to score," Morgan said.
"Maybe he was out of rhythm, maybe it wasn't his night - but I think some of the credit has to go to our defense."
The Cyclone 2-3 zone set the pace in the first half as the ISU jumped out to a 33-20 lead. The Seminoles, unable to penetrate, were content to bomb long jumpers over it, to no avail.
In the second half, the Cyclones reached deeper into its bag of defensive tricks. After the Seminoles used an 8-0 run to pull within five, Morgan employed a 2-1-2 trap and even some full court pressure – zone and man - to confuse FSU. It worked.
"We put everything on the floor that we have worked from the first preseason workout until now," Morgan said. "We needed all of it today to get out of here with a win."
Thanks to a few clutch defensive stops, FSU made it interesting in the final two minutes. Down 58-54, Nate Johnson blocked a shot by Sullivan that led to a pair of Pickett free throws at the other end. Andrew Wilson forced a turnover on the ensuing possession, giving the Seminoles one final opportunity.
On the game's deciding possession, Pickett drove and dished to center Alexander Johnson at the left elbow but the freshman's potential game-tying shot fell short.
"We ran a play with four or five different options," Hamilton said. "One required getting it to (Johnson). He had a nice clean look but it just rimmed out."
On a night reserved for Pickett and the rest of the seniors, Iowa State's stole the show. Sullivan had a game-high 19 and post player Jared Homan added 11 and nine rebounds as both extended their careers at least one more game. Marcus Jefferson – also a senior – iced the game with two foul shots after Johnson's miss.
Forward Adam Waleskowski took advantage a few seams in the zone, leading FSU with 14 points and ten rebounds. Johnson chipped in a dozen.
"Even though we spent time preparing for it in practice, we were indecisive and passive in the attack of the zone," Hamilton said. "They gained confidence as a result."
And Pickett's confidence suffered.
"Tonight was a night that proves everybody is human," said Pickett, who was fourth in the NCAA in 3-point shots made this season. "We had a lot of shots that were open that we just couldn't make."