Notebook: Naz calls his shot, Iowa State handles the ‘foul or defend’ situation


Tiffany Herring/Iowa State Daily

Sophomore guard Naz Long goes for a 3-pointer against Oklahoma State on March 8 at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones beat the Cowboys 85-81. Long had 14 points, including a 30-foot triple at the buzzer to send the game into overtime. 

Dean Berhow-Goll

Naz Long stood hunched over next to Oklahoma State’s Markel Brown, talking into his ear.

With only five seconds left and the score 70-68, OSU shooting ace Phil Forte was about to shoot a pair of free throws with a chance to seal the game.

Long had just missed a triple — that could’ve given the Cyclones the lead — from his favorite spot on the court, his corner, and it was killing him.

“I know that corner-3 is eating you alive,” Brown said.

The first free throw was good to make it a three-point game. If he made the second, it likely would’ve put the game out of reach.

And so as Long stood next to Brown, he leaned over to give him a message.

“I’ll put any dollar that if I get this ball again,” Long said, “It’s going in.”

And then Forte, an 89-percent shooter on the season, missed the second.

Rebounded by Matt Thomas, he hastily kicked it to DeAndre Kane, who took two dribbles, and pushed a bounce pass to Long right past halfcourt.

Long crossed over past Brown to his left and rose up with confidence, nearly the exact same looking shot he had in Stillwater, Okla., just more than a month ago. On the right wing, 25-feet from the bucket.

And he buried it, just as he did a month prior, sending the game to overtime, which left Long walking back looking into the Hilton stands, arms raised.

“That’s what you have to do when you shoot the ball and you’re known as a shooter, you can’t think,” said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg. “You can’t think about the last one, you’ve got to go on to the next one and have confidence you’re going to step up and knock it down.

“And I’ll tell you, one thing Naz Long doesn’t lack is confidence.”

That was the second prayer 3-pointer that he made against the Cowboys this season, the first leading to a triple-overtime thriller where Iowa State eventually won 98-97.

So this time, what did Long think as he attempted to save the game, and ultimately senior day?

“Please go in, that’s it,” Long said of what he thought when the ball left his hands. “And the fact that I missed the corner one, that was eating me up.

“I just had to let it go and put another one up.”

Handling the ‘foul or defend’ situation

After Long’s second miracle of the season against Oklahoma State, overtime was still left to handle without Melvin Ejim fouled out with 12 points. Then after two minutes of overtime, without Georges Niang who fouled out with 22 points.

After DeAndre Kane hit two free throws to make it 82-79, a situation that has haunted Iowa State in the past arose again, whether or not to foul with a three point lead.

Where Iowa State failed to execute properly and been burned it the past, the team carried out the orders perfectly, fouling twice and making free throws.

First Matt Thomas hit a pair to keep the lead at three points at 84-81 — after he had missed a crucial one-and-one opportunity earlier in the game. Then after a missed free throw from Markel Brown, the game was ultimately over.

“It doesn’t always work, but today it worked,” Hoiberg said. “I’m glad, you work on something at length pretty much daily in practice, it’s nice to see it pay off.”