"It's what I've always wanted since I've been here," said Eustachy of facing the Hawkeyes once again. "I've always thought we should play a home-and-home. My dream comes true, but it'll probably come out and bite me in the fanny about this time Friday. But it's great for the state of Iowa and great for the people. I wish we'd do it every year."
Just as Iowa did early in its opening-round NIT meeting with Valparaiso Monday, the Cyclones stumbled out of the starting gate and needed an early second-half flurry to come out on top.
The Shockers grabbed a three-point edge heading into the locker room in front of ISU's best home crowd of the season (13,955). They shot 50 percent from the field and owned a six-rebound edge in keeping the hostile crowd in check. Wichita State opened that margin to 40-35 with 17:15 remaining in the game before the Cyclones got going.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Barnes opened an 18-5 run that eventually gave them a 56-45 lead at the 8:30 mark. After a bucket from Jackson Vroman, Barnes nailed two more threes and ISU was off and running.
"When he gets hot, he gets hot," said Sullivan, who was no slouch himself, hitting on 4-of-8 3-pointers on the night. "It's unbelievable. You give Tim the ball and get out of the way. It was kind of similar to Kansas State. He really got us back into it and got us a nice lead, then the rest of us went to work from there. He's playing great basketball right now."
Barnes would go on to hit on 5-of-11 3-point shots in the game to finish with 21 points. He also grabbed seven rebounds and three assists to just three turnovers. Sullivan scored a game-high 23 points in 35 minutes.
While the Cyclones hit shot after shot, Wichita State struggled to match the offensive rhythm it found early. During the decisive 13-point swing, the Shockers missed nine of their 11 attempts from the field.
"I thought we started concentrating better, and I thought Wichita State just missed some shots too," Eustachy said. "They had some looks. We were lucky to get out of this one with the parts of basketball we played over 40 minutes. I don't know when our team is going to understand that you have to defend and rebound to win games. We gave up 50 percent (shooting) in the first half and got out-rebounded for the game. That just doesn't get it done."
It was pretty apparent that Eustachy got his point across, too. His players know that their Wednesday effort will not be enough to get it done when Iowa comes to town.
"It's a huge rivalry between the two schools and we're going to really have to step up our intensity to beat those guys," said Vroman, who battled foul trouble and was limited to just 10 points and seven rebounds over 26 minutes. "We can't rely on coming back on them this time. Tonight we had to rely on some hot shooting and we don't want to have to do that against Iowa. We need to put together enough defensive stops and not guys shooting well."
"It was the difference for sure," Eustachy said. "I don't want to say we came out a little flat. I thought we were determined, but I just thought Wichita State did a good job of out-determining us early. The crowd really got us going throughout the game. It was as good a crowd as we've had here in a long time. I'm glad we could treat everybody to that. The magic was definitely there tonight."