On Campus With Brent Blum

Losses like the one Saturday are never easy to take. The least favorite words on the Iowa State campus this year have been "Tuition increases" and "Overtime." Say one of those phrases while walking in the Union and you are liable to get the look of someone who was just told they have to sit through an Ashlee Simpson concert. Not good. I was shocked this week when I realized ISU had actually won three straight overtime games in basketball previous to Saturday. I had no idea.

Losses like the one Saturday are never easy to take. The least favorite words on the Iowa State campus this year have been "Tuition increases" and "Overtime." Say one of those phrases while walking in the Union and you are liable to get the look of someone who was just told they have to sit through an Ashlee Simpson concert. Not good. I was shocked this week when I realized ISU had actually won three straight overtime games in basketball previous to Saturday. I had no idea. The entire Iowa State fan-base almost gives up when extra time is needed now. It's like playing match-play in golf after you hit your tee shot off the nearest two-story house. You feel like conceding.

 

(Quick random Story: I was playing in a match-play golf event in high school. I had won my previous two matches handily 5&4 and 4&3. But, I was in a dog-fight with a guy from Pella Christian. We were all-square through 12. My tee shot on 13 sprayed right off into some foliage. I had a few choice words for my driver, because goodness knows it wasn't my fault. It wasn't the first time that I had resorted to PG-13 level verbage, but the rules stated that if you used foul language you had to concede that hole. Everyone else laughed at the rule, but this dude called me on it, saying "Your language offends me and I won't tolerate it." I lost the hole by default and was so rattled I dropped the next two as well, ending my chance to win the Creston match-play Invitational. I felt like Jean Van-de Velde in the British Open. To this day, I won't drop any f-bombs while golfing. That is of course until my driver acts up.)

 

Anyway, the loss to A&M got me thinking about previous overtime losses in Iowa State basketball history. There have been some tough ones. Before the OT win at Texas last season sparked the mini-3 game OT win streak, ISU was 1-8 in their previous nine extra-time games. (The lone win in OT coming at the expense of the feisty Morningside Mustangs.) In fact, two of ISU's five losses in the 1999-2000 campaign were in overtime.

 

The first was to Oklahoma in Norman, or as I like to call it the Tim Heskett game. ISU trailed with 6 minutes left in regulation 52-38 when Michael Nurse put it on auto-pilot, hitting big shot after big shot to send it into overtime. In the first OT session both teams were locked into a defensive struggle until OU's Victor Avila hit an 18 foot shot with 30 seconds to give the Sooners the lead by 1, causing an exasperated Pete Taylor to mutter, "That big stiff hasn't hit a shot all game." I loved frustrated Pete; it sounded like he wanted to jump over press row and play himself to set things straight. Nurse was fouled on the ensuing possession and hit one of two FT's to allow a second overtime. That's when Heskett, yes the same Tim Heskett who played for roughly 12 years, hit two threes to seal the deal, giving ISU their first loss in two months, 80-75. The blood still boils when I think of that one. 

 

Later that season, it was the Colorado Buffaloes and Jaquay Walls who pulled the trick. Walls scored 42 points, including a heave from 40 feet that found the bottom of the net at the end of regulation to extend the game into overtime. He scored 15 overtime points and the Buffs won 102-90. Walls' 42 points were the most ever in the four years of the conference up to that point. Larry Eustachy said after the game, "I don't know if I've given up 102 points in my life." Funny enough, ISU has allowed 100 points only once since…that game turned out to be legendary.

It started out innocently enough. The Cyclones made the short-trip down to Columbia, Missouri to square off against the Tigers in Jan. 2001 in a routine Big 12 game. Just for your info, the Hearnes Center (Mizzou's old arena) was a place that bothered the heck out of me. I couldn't stand that place. I blame Anthony Peeler for my original discontent. But, that afternoon added to my malicious feelings.

 

Iowa State controlled the entire game, but let the game slip towards the end, allowing the game to go into OT tied at 72. Little did everyone know, they would be at the gym for another hour. Mizzou took a commanding 6 point lead in the first OT, but a few errant shots by the free-spirited Clarence Gilbert gave the Cyclones more life. Paul Shirley made a hook shot to tie the game at 82 and Kareem Rush's shot as time expired was blocked to go to OT number two. Jamaal Tinsley fouled out in the second extra session and Shirley missed a game-winning jumper, sending the game into the third overtime. Things got goofy when Gilbert started taking shots from St. Louis, missing almost all of them, until he hit a 28 footer with 11 seconds left to take the marathon a couple of more miles. Iowa State was gassed and Gilbert and Rush continued the onslaught. Iowa State had three more players foul out, leaving them with Jake Sullivan and the "rebounding machine" Richard Evans to attempt to stop the Tigers in the fourth time-frame. They weren't so lucky as Mizzou emerged from the battle of attrition the victor, 112-109.

 

Gilbert ended the day 12-36 from the field, shattering any resemblance of a shots attempted record in the conference. Yes the man attempted 36 shots (he also attempted 17 free throws). That is a record that will never be touched unless Kobe's offspring plays in the Big 12. For some perspective on how ridiculous that is, Air Force has had five games this year with under 36 shots as a TEAM! Rush, who claimed after the game that he "played second fiddle," attempted 31 shots himself (good enough for 2nd in the record books). Gilbert had 43 points, Rush 32. Gilbert's 43 points remain the highest single game total in Big 12 history. It is a game that lasted over three hours, and felt like it went on for days. It remains the only game in Big 12 history to enter four overtimes; in fact no other game has even entered a third overtime. It is a classic that even ESPN classic struggles to run due to time constraints. The marathon was the start of ISU's five game losing streak at Missouri that still remains.

 

Coincidentally enough, ISU makes the same trek tonight that they did almost five years ago. For the health and sanity of all of us, let's hope tonight's game gets over before the clock strikes twelve. But, one overtime just for old-time's sake wouldn't kill anybody.             


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