Tigers nip Cyclones in another close one

The majority of the Iowa State's Big 12 games are starting to sound like a broken record. Of the Cyclones (14-13, 1-11 Big 12) 11 conference losses, eight have been by less than ten points and within one possession in the final three minutes. That number grew again Saturday with a 76-70 home loss to Missouri.

One of the trends causing the tight games for Iowa State in a large portion of their Big 12 games has been slow starts. For the second straight time against the Tigers (21-6, 7-5), the Cyclones fell behind by double digits in the first ten minutes of the game.

In the first contest, Iowa State was blown out to the tune of 87-54 on the road, but was able to work its way back into the rematch, despite falling behind 21-9, before wilting late.

Cyclone coach Fred Hoiberg said that constantly trying to come from behind is causing most of the struggles late in tight games.

"We just came out and dug ourselves another hole," Hoiberg said. "We just exhaust too much energy trying to get back into the game and I could see that in their faces."

Hoiberg's comment was no more prevalent when Scott Christopherson hit a 3-pointer to cap a 7-0 Cyclone run to tie the game at 58. Missouri's aggressive, quick guards were able to drive by Iowa State defenders for scores inside and free throws in a decisive 13-4 run to put the game away.

"In all those close games, if we play the way at the beginning that we do at the end we might have been on the other side of the game," Cyclone guard Diante Garrett said. "We fall behind and spend the whole game fighting back.

"We have to start off better," Garrett said.

Iowa State was playing its second straight game without center Jamie Vanderbeken because of a high ankle sprain. Garrett was held out of the starting lineup after being late to a team meeting but played well off the bench with 12 points and 10 assists, along with pulling down six rebounds.

"We just have to keep fighting and play with the cards that we're dealt," Cyclone guard Jake Anderson said. "I don't think we gave the full defensive effort for 35 seconds all night and that hurt us."

Iowa State had trouble slowing down Tiger guard Marcus Denmon, who led his team with 25 points in their first conference road win. Anderson led the Cyclones with 17 points and Scott Christopherson followed with 13.

Calvin Godfrey posted his first career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds in place of Vanderbeken and Melvin Ejim poured in 11 points as well. Godfrey and Ejim were key parts of the Cyclone effort on both ends of the floor to whittle a 12-point Tiger lead at the 13-minute mark of the first half to two at the break.

"I thought our defense the last 10 minutes of the first half was as good as it's been all year, but we just need to play that way all the time," Hoiberg said. "Melvin played himself to exhaustion a couple of times and was a big part of that."

Just like in a few other conference games, Iowa State was able to pull within one possession or tie the game every time their opponent tried to pull away in the second half. The Cyclones were unable to take the lead at any point, however.

"These guys have gone out and battled almost every game this year and given us a chance to win," Hoiberg said. "They are learning from their mistakes and need to continue that."

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