ISU Returns to Form on Senior Night

<B>AMES, IA --</B> Iowa State certainly took everything Missouri had to offer Wednesday night in rolling to a 67-49 victory at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones, who racked up 14 steals and forced 22 Mizzou turnovers, owned a decisive 30-4 margin in points-off-turnovers.

‘Senior Night' for Jared Homan, Damion Staple, and Dave Braet went off without incident, as ISU led from start to finish and led by as many as 25 points.

The Cyclones gave their NCAA Tournament dreams another boost by improving to 16-10 overall and 8-7 in Big 12 action. They wrap up the regular season with a weekend trip to Colorado, where a win could give them the five seed in next week's conference tournament.

"I don't think there was any doubt in our mind we were going to win this game tonight," said Homan. "We were determined and it was Senior Night. I sure didn't want to end my career on a loss. This win keeps our NCAA hopes alive. Now we've got to go out to Colorado and win that game, then do some damage in the Big 12. Our backs are against the wall, it's us against the world."

But on Wednesday it was more like Missouri against the world, or at least the Cyclones and the 12,850 fans in attendance. The Tigers, who fell to one game under .500 at 14-15, never got comfortable in Hilton.

Turnovers had a lot to do with it.

"When you throw the ball away 22 times in a game, you're not going to win it, especially against Iowa State," said Mizzou's Quin Snyder, who has lost all six of his trips to Ames as a head coach. "ISU forces you to make plays and tonight we didn't. We have to be better to win games like this."

ISU scored 12 of the game's first 16 points and later opened a 25-15 lead with 2:46 remaining in the first half.

"Anytime we can start out 12-4 I think we've got a chance," said Cyclone head coach Wayne Morgan. "We got out to a good start, but they came back a little bit. Basketball is a game of spurts, and we went up again. It's the team that can make the fewest mistakes and concentrate the hardest together over a period of time. We were able to do that. I think the difference was they had 22 turnovers and we had seven."

Jared Homan notched a double-double in his final regular season game at Hilton Coliseum, scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Will Blalock poured in a team-high 19 points, while dishing out five assists.

After hitting just under 38 percent of its shots from the field during the first half, ISU improved to knock down 47 percent in the closing 20 minutes. Morgan's team had no trouble sharing offensively, and dished out 21 assists.

Although the Cyclones were out-rebounded by a decisive 41-31 margin, they were able to overcome it by getting turnovers and cutting down the Tigers' offensive opportunities.

In suffering back-to-back losses to Nebraska and Texas A&M last week, ISU failed to force many transition opportunities and saw its pressure defense shredded. But the Cyclones took Missouri out of it from the start on Wednesday.

"That's the way we were playing when we were on our seven-game winning streak," said Curtis Stinson, who accounted for three steals and eight assists. "We went away from it for two games and went down a little bit. We picked it up a little bit tonight and got what we wanted."

The Cyclones started their three seniors alongside sophomores Blalock and Stinson. The longest-tenured Cyclone, Homan hopes this is his last appearance in front of the Hilton faithful.

"I love playing here and wish I had another season, but I don't want to play here again," he said. "I want to play in the NCAA Tournament, so let's see if we can make it happen."

The next step in what ISU hopes is it's path to the Big Dance is a Saturday trip to Boulder, where it will hope to avenge a two-point upset at Hilton earlier in the season.

"I think we played a lot better tonight than the last two games," Morgan said. "I hope we're in a position to where we can play at that level when we go out to Colorado. For us it's going to be a real meaningful game going out there.

"Every game we play now means something. This is why they come to college. This is why the guys from New York or Boston shoot all the tough shots in the schoolyard and why Jared shot all the jump shots in his barn."


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