Crowd Spurs Cyclones to Big Win

Of course, the Cyclone Alley student section can't literally win a basketball game for you, although their influence is not disputed. That's when it helps to have Fred Hoiberg

They camped out Saturday night, then waited in line Sunday morning.

Signs and cardboard cutouts in hand, they arrived ready to yell the top off Hilton Coliseum, to split the eardrums of visiting Michigan, to give everybody in attendance a slight migraine.

When it was over, Iowa State shaking off early shooting troubles to top No. 7 Michigan for its best home win since 1987, they got to rush the court and sing "Sweet Caroline."

"You see students outside Hilton Coliseum in tents, and that tells you all you need to know," Cyclones head coach Fred Hoiberg said.

In a few hours, Iowa State did the following:

  • Beat last season's national runner-ups to pick up window dressing for display come March.

  • With the football team in the midst of a rotten 1-9 season, ISU suddenly — for the short-term at least — became a basketball school.

  • Convinced any doubters there is, with the exception of Kansas' Phog Allen, no tougher place to win a basketball game.

  • Made another big impression on five-star shooting guard Rashad Vaughn, already enamored with Iowa State's coaching staff.

    Quite the afternoon, no?

    "This is huge for our program, for our fans to see our team winning like this," said Georges Niang, who picked up four huge points down the stretch. "This is huge for them, to camp out all night and to see this, it's awesome for our program and I'm excited for things that are in the future for us."

    Said Michigan's Nik Stauskas: "They have great fans. It was an awesome environment for anyone who loves the game of basketball.

    Of course, the Cyclone Alley student section can't literally win a basketball game for you, although their influence is not disputed. That's when it helps to have Fred Hoiberg, who, as Michigan coach John Beilien so aptly put it, has assembled a motley crew of players from all over — like fifth-year transfer DeAndre Kane and JUCO transfer Dustin Hogue — to be the "pieces in the puzzle."

    Kane was again a one-man wrecking crew, scoring 13 points, grabbing five rebounds and dishing out six assists.

    Hogue entered the season as the de facto "energy guy" but has been much more. Sunday he notched his first career double-double (12 points and 10 rebounds) and plucked a crucial defensive rebound with 52 seconds left and hit a foul shot to extend the score to 74-68.

    Sophomore Naz Long, who scored all of 25 points as a freshman, poured in double figures for the second time this season, keeping the Cyclones above water with his hot three-point shooting (4-for-6).

    With the Cyclones up 64-62, five minutes left and Kane just having left the game with cramping (he appears to be OK now), Long buried a three-pointer at the top of the key that got Hilton jumping.

    "Naz, kind of the forgotten guy in this game," Hoiberg said. "To go out there and score 16 points in that game, I'd say those Canadians are pretty darn good."

    The other one, senior power forward Melvin Ejim, had his seventh career scoring day of 20-plus points, made all the more impressive that his return from a hyperextended left knee injury came two weeks early.

    Ejim hit a crucial three-pointer to draw the score to 62-all, blocked a Stauskas shot as Michigan was making a run to extend its lead and banked in a jumper from the wing while being fouled.

    Had he not decided to make his return before Sunday's game, the Hilton buzz would have been enough to change his mind 20 minutes in.

    "I probably would have went and changed at halftime," Ejim said with a grin.

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