Cyclones Fight Off Pesky Huskers

In what was a game of runs, the ISU men's basketball made the last one when it counted in their matchup with Nebraska at Hilton Coliseum Wednesday. The Cyclones (12-5, 1-1 Big 12) finished the game on a 10-0 run to win 65-53 over the Huskers (11-4, 1-1), who had cut a 14-point Iowa State lead to two with 2:12 to go.

"I was pleased with the way we played the last six or seven minutes cause I was down to one timeout," coach Greg McDermott said. "They had kind of just go out and play and play through some tough stretches."

Forward Craig Brackins said it was great to be able to close out a conference game like the team did especially with having some struggles late in games during the non-conference schedule. "We were having a hard time doing that," Brackins said. "We did a real good job of handling ourselves in the last couple of minutes."

The first seven points of that run came from Brackins and Lucca Staiger, who led the Cyclones with 21 and 18 points, respectively. Brackins had a double-double, corralling 12 rebounds to go with his scoring output, and all of Staiger's points came off of his six three-pointers. Some of those shots came off of inside-outside plays between the two players.

"Craig did a good job of posting up hard all of the time," Staiger said. "We both made good reads and we play well together." Iowa State shot 46 percent from the field and hit nine three-pointers, while Nebraska shot only 35 percent with six threes.

The Cyclones also outrebounded the Huskers 42-28, but Nebraska made up for that by being +6 in the turnover battle with their pressure defense. "Nebraska pressures the ball real hard," Brackins said. "It is obvious why they are the best defensive team in the conference.

The Cyclones trailed 13-12 early but went on a 15-1 run to take a 27-14 lead over a seven-minute stretch. Nebraska fought back to within but Bryan Petersen buried a three as the first half buzzer went off to give Iowa State a 32-20 lead. "When you are playing against defensive pressure like that, you have to be in the attack mode to make them pay for it," McDermott said. "We will have to do that again Saturday against Missouri, too."

The Cyclones led 39-26 but Ade Dagunduro, who led Nebraska with 13 points, sparked a 13-2 run which brought the Huskers within two. The two teams battled back-and-forth and Dagunduro once again had his team within two with a three-point play at 55-53.

A jumper by Brackins and a three by Staiger, however, started the late run by Iowa State and the game was all but over after that. "We have learned to stay with things," Brackins said. "We just had to stick with the gameplan and everything worked out."

McDermott said, when his team was able to take care of the ball in the second half, it got good shots, allowing the Cyclones to shoot over 50 percent in the half despite 12 turnovers.

"The key to those possessions is that on all of them the ball went inside first," McDermott said. "Craig touched the ball and we played off of Craig."

Iowa State goes on the road to Missouri on Saturday, with a 12:45 pm tipoff at the Mizzou Sports Arena.

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