ISU break losing streak by sweeping Huskers

When the ISU men's basketball team broke its six-game losing streak Wednesday, it was in fitting fashion. In a game that resembled several of its February losses, the Cyclones (14-14, 3-10) finally found a way to win a close game late, taking down Nebraska 78-74 in front of just under 12,000 fans at Hilton Coliseum.

The win completes the season sweep of the Huskers (13-15, 1-12) after Iowa State got its first conference win in Lincoln on January 16.

Iowa State made two key runs late and hit its free throws to close out its first win in almost a month and the elation of the players showed after the buzzer went off.

"We know that we've worked hard and we have always been so close," Brackins said. "It's great to have that feeling that we know we should have had in some games but we can't dwell on the past. Everybody was putting in work so something was bound to happen."

Cyclone coach Greg McDermott said his team just kept battling in the game.

"We're down ten and we're flat and the guys just kept defending," McDermott said. "We just kept working and kept believing in each other."

The key run in the game may have come when Brackins, Iowa State's leading scorer, was on the bench with three fouls. The Cyclones were trailing 49-40 and Scott Christopherson and Marquis Gilstrap both knocked down threes.

Chris Colvin then picked Husker point guard Lance Jeter and took it down for a conventional three-point play to tie the game, which was followed by two Justin Hamilton free throws to make it 11 straight and a 51-49 Iowa State lead.

McDermott said he was impressed with what a lift his bench gave the team after a lackluster effort Saturday against Texas A&M.

"We're down nine after Craig picks up his third foul and Chris Colvin and LaRon Dendy went in the game," McDermott said. "That group with Gilstrap, Hamilton and Christopherson got us back in the game and without their play we are not sitting here talking about a victory."

During that run, Iowa State held Nebraska without a field goal for over six minutes.

"What got us back in the game was when we came out in the second half and strung together a bunch of stops," Christopherson said.

Nebraska scored eight straight to take the lead back but Iowa State went on a 10-0 run of its own to respond and took a four-point lead after a trey and an inside jumper from Brackins. Jeter hit a three and had a conventional three-point play to tie the game but Brackins took over again.

Brackins took an offensive rebound and went right back up for a dunk and really whipped the crowd into a frenzy with a slam off a feed from Diante Garrett. He then knocked down two free throws to give the Cyclones a 71-66 lead.

"I'm getting old and I wasn't sure about it," Brackins said jokingly of the dunk of the lob. "(Garrett) either throws it low or throws it high and I had a feeling I had to jump, so I laughed at him afterwards because he was happy that I caught it."

Brackins had a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds and was joined in double figures by Christopherson with 17 points, Gilstrap with 15 and Garrett with 11. Christian Standhardinger had 25 points for Nebraska and Jeter had 21.

In a game that featured several key second half runs, there were also some big runs in the first half. Nebraska went on a 12-2 run out of the gate to take a 12-4 lead but the Cyclones responded with 10 straight to take the lead back. Standhardinger then scored nine of his 14 first half points in a run 13-4 run that allowed the Huskers to have a 41-34 halftime lead.

The big difference in the two halves might have been three-point shooting and free throws. Nebraska was seven of 12 in the first half from beyond the arc but held to just two of seven in the second half. Iowa State was outscored by 12 points on 3-pointers but erased that deficit by getting to the line often and holding a 25-11 edge in free throws.

This win starts a stretch of the final quarter of Big 12 play heading into the conference tournament.

"We super excited to be headed into the Big 12 Tournament," Christopherson said. "We're hoping to finish these last three games the way we know we can and head into the Big 12 Tournament on a roll.

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