The Cyclones started the game playing tough defense. They were able to force nine Cowboy first-half turnovers. They also used a 10-2 run during a three-minute span to turn a two-point deficit into a 23-18 lead. This burst was led by newcomers Rahshon Clark and Tasheed Carr, who scored four points each during this span. The Cowboys finished strong in the half and took a 30-28 lead going into the locker room.
After a first half that found the Cyclones leading for a good portion of it, some defensive lapses and questionable calls early in the second half allowed the Cowboys to increase their lead to 61-42. The last five points of this streak were from two free throws and three of four technical foul free throws after the ejection of Iowa State coach Wayne Morgan.
"I usually don't do that, said Morgan after the game. "There came a time when I felt I had to advocate because I don't know if I'm seeing it right or wrong, but what I'm seeing, I needed to advocate…real hard."
In his 30 years of basketball, Morgan said that these were the fifth and sixth technical fouls that he has ever received. After discussing some previous calls with the referee at the scorer's table, Morgan turned around and walked toward the huddle set up near the free throw line in front of their bench. Shortly after he had turned around, the first technical foul was called. Morgan made it to the huddle and began talking with the players before he realized that a technical was called. He left the huddle and approached the scorer's table once again. This time, one of his assistants was standing between the coach and the referee as he approached. After a few seconds of a more heated discussion, the referee teed up Morgan for a second time and an early exit to the dressing room.
After the timeout, the team left the huddle area and met near the middle of the floor.
"We weren't ready to quit," said Jared Homan. "We were going to come back and fight. Coach (Morgan) was fighting for us, and we were going to come back and try everything to win."
Trailing 61-42, the Cyclones went on a 13-5 run to cut the lead to 66-55 with 8:41 left. They spent the next three minutes hovering around a deficit of 11-13 points until a 7-0 spurt left the Cyclones trailing 75-70 with 2:17 left.
However, the Cowboys used ball control and time management to finish off the game.
The "L" has been placed in the standings, but strides were definitely made on this day. In front of one of the nation's toughest venues, the Cyclones weathered a second-half breakdown, lost their coach, and then made a valiant comeback effort just to come up short in the end. It helps that Iowa State plays their home games in another of the toughest venues, Hilton Coliseum. They have seen first-hand what a great home crowd can do for both teams.
Curtis Stinson led the Cyclones with 20 points, six rebounds and six assists. Sixteen of his points came in the second half. Will Blalock added 15 points, Jared Homan chipped in 13 points, and Clark contributed 12 points with a 5-7 performance from the field, including 2-3 from beyond the three-point arc.