Cyclones drop another tight game

In a game that looked reminiscent to its recent close losses to ranked teams, the ISU men's basketball was in the game late but could not close the deal against No. 24 Texas A&M Saturday. The Cyclones (13-14, 2-10 Big 12) trailed by just one in the final three minutes of the game and had a chance to take the lead but could not get it done, losing 60-56 to the Aggies (19-7, 8-4).

Both teams shot under 40 percent, including a frigid 32 percent by Iowa State, who shot just 5-20 from three-point range. The Cyclones got 15 points from Diante Garrett and Marquis Gilstrap as well as 10 from Craig Brackins, who shot just four of 16 from the field and struggled with the length of the Aggies' post players.

"When you look at Texas A&M's games, they are possession games and it's hard to get anything in the paint and that was the case today," coach Greg McDermott said. "When their defensive gameplan is to muddy up the lane, you are going to have to make shots and we didn't do that consistently enough."

That gameplan was clear early and often as Texas A&M took the lead early and led for the entire first half. Iowa State was able to keep the game tight with its defense, however, by not allowing the Aggies to build more than a six-point advantage. The Cyclones trailed 31-28 at the half and Garrett was a big part of that with 10 of his points.

"I try to get the guys the best shots I can, and if they're not falling for them, I try to pick it up and that happened," Garrett said.

The game stayed tight for the first seven minutes of the second half, including Iowa State taking its first lead of the game at 35-34, until Texas A&M went on a run after leading by just one at 40-39. The Aggies went on an 11-2 run extend their lead to 10.

Trailing 54-44, the Cyclones countered with a run of their own. Marquis Gilstrap knocked home a three and a long two to go along with two free throws each from Brackins and Garrett to bring Iowa State within one at 54-53. David Loubeau stopped that 9-0 run with a jumper to re-extend the Aggie lead to three, however.

McDermott said Wednesday he was upset with his team's effort a little bit but that was not the case against Texas A&M, especially late in the game.

"I'm not going to fault our effort, from the opening tip, it was where it needed to be," McDermott said.

The shot selection by Iowa State in the final minute may be another story. Brackins and Garrett both took extremely tough shots and missed as the Aggies hit four straight free throws to make it a seven-point game. Gilstrap hit another one of his three second half treys to cut it to four and the Cyclones forced a turnover but failed to get a good look at the basket in the final 15 seconds.

"We're all a little heartbroken," center Justin Hamilton said. "We all know that we just need to make one more play or don't mess up that one time and we win."

McDermott said his players continue to work hard but cannot seem to pick up that breakout win.

"When you invest a lot, you expect results," McDermott said. "Sometimes you work your tail off and it doesn't come out the way you want it to.

"But we can't hang our heads and feel sorry for ourselves because that will not help us on Wednesday," McDermott said.

Iowa State hosts conference cellar dweller Nebraska, who the Cyclones beat on the road, Wednesday.

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