"I think he got mad and made his shots," Cyclone coach Wayne Morgan said of Stinson, who made an unbelievable nine of ten shots from the field.
Stinson hit on every conceivable type of shot including a three-pointer and both of his free throws.
Morgan made an astute move late in the first half and at the start of the second as he benched Stinson in favor of Will Blalock.
"I put Will in to change things up because they were trying to go after (Stinson's) hand and it spread the court out," Morgan said.
Morgan reinserted Stinson into the lineup with Blalock after about three minutes were gone in the second half and the freshman went on a tear, making all six of his next field goal attempts.
Stinson's performance was magnified by the fact that he hadn't practiced in four days and was more or less playing with just one hand as his left hand had such a heavy bandage, it hurt to even look at it.
"He's on a level of his own," Morgan said, confirming that it was probably the most courageous performance he'd ever seen in basketball.
But Stinson wasn't the whole show, as the entire Cyclone team was on fire, shooting an astounding 74.4% from the field.
Jackson Vroman actually led the scoring with 23 points followed by Stinson's 21. Vroman was involved in heavy action under the baskets and two Georgia players that got into it with him fouled out - Chris Daniels and Steve Newman. Vroman let his emotions get the best of him late in the game and was whistled for a technical, but his free throw shooting down the stretch helped seal the victory.
The game had been close throughout until the 6:29 mark in the second half when Vroman hit a lay-up to give the Cyclones a 59-56 edge. ISU scored the next nine points and the outcome never seemed in doubt afterwards.
The Bulldogs stayed in the game for a long time based on their three point shooting (12 of 27). Their game plan revolved around harassing Stinson and shutting down Jake Sullivan (10 points) by denying him the ball.
But the Cyclones had just two many weapons. In addition to Stinson, Vroman and Sullivan, Marcus Jefferson was instrumental in the victory with 11 points and six rebounds. Jared Homan picked up three fouls early and spent a great deal of time on the bench, but still contributed nine points.
Leading the scoring for Georgia with 20 was Damien Wilkins, a nephew of UGA and NBA great Dominique Wilkins and son of long-time NBA player Gerald Wilkins.
The only thing on Wednesday night that came close to matching Stinson's heroics was the tremendous Hilton crowd. They had warmed up their pipes during the earlier women's game and were in full force against an extremely talented SEC team from Georgia that had claimed two victories this season over Kentucky, the number one seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Morgan said simply, "We have the best fans and the best home court advantage in the nation."
This landmark game, coupled with the strong field in the NIT this year, may go a long way in elevating the NIT from an afterthought of the so-called 'Big Dance' to a status it has never enjoyed before.
Soon after the game it was announced that there would tentatively be another double header on Friday, but later it was determined that the Cyclone men would have to travel to Tallahasee, Florida, to face the Florida State Seminoles. The Noles knocked off Wichita State 91-84 in double overtime in earlier NIT action on Wednesday.
ISU Women advance after win over Idaho State
The drama of the men's game wasn't quite there, but the Cyclone women put on quite a show of their own as they downed the Idaho State Bengals, 72-59 earlier in the evening with a surprising tactic.
Long noted for their zone defense, the Cyclones threw a new twist at the Bengals with primarily a man-to-man defense.
"We probably played more man-to-man than the rest of the season combined," ISU head coach Bill Fennelly said.
"The way they spread you out forces you into it."
"It's a good addition," center Lisa Kriener said of the seldom used defense. "It's a good tool to catch a couple of teams off guard."
Idaho State shot just 35.4% from the field and 21.4% from the line point arc, which had been their specialty.
Meanwhile, the Cyclones connected on 51.7% and 40.9% respectively. Anne O'Neil, the women's version of Curtis Stinson, led the way for the Cyclones with 16 points.
"Anne played really well," said Fennelly of his junior guard who's hobbled with an arch ailment in her foot. "She's probably one of the players that can sit out of practice and handle it."
Like Stinson on the men's side, O'Neil has been unable to practice this week with her foot condition.
"Iowa State has an extremely talented team," Idaho State coach Jon Newlee said. "They're always going to play hard and smart."
One of the smartest players was center Lisa Kriener, who had 14 points and eight rebounds in one of her best outings. Megan Ronhovde added 14 for the victors and Katie Robinette and Mary Fox both hauled in seven rebounds apiece.
The Iowa State women will face Miami of Ohio from the Mid-American Conference in the second game of the WNIT. The game will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Friday in Hilton Coliseum.
Tickets are priced at $7.00 and may be purchased on-line at www.cyclones.com now, or by calling 1-888-ISU-CYCLONE after noon on Thursday or in person at the ISU ticket office after 12:00 p.m.
Motivation to play in NIT no problem for Cyclones
"This team wants to keep playing," said men's coach Wayne Morgan. "We've got a lot of guys from Iowa here. They've never seen New York (the site of the NIT finals) and it's the only way they'll get there."
Jake Sullivan said that the team was motivated by the thought of taking Morgan and Curtis Stinson back to their home city.
On the women's side, Anne O'Neil chimed in.
"There's no question we're motivated," she said. "With all the returning players we have it's going to be a good thing."