Cyclones send seniors out with top 10 upset

Dan Tracy

Cyclone fans poured onto the court at Hilton Coliseum for the second time this season as Iowa State concluded its regular season with its second home win over a top 10 team, toppling No. 9 Baylor 80-72.

The Lowdown

21 of Baylor’s opponents this season fell behind at halftime and were unable to walk away with a win. Iowa State (22-9, 12-6 Big 12) looked like it might suffer the same fate as the Bears (25-6, 12-6) took a 51-43 lead before a media timeout at the 15:04 mark of the second half.

Then a defensive switch was made by ISU coach Fred Hoiberg, putting 6-foot-5-inch junior guard Chris Babb on 5-foot-10-inch Baylor junior guard Pierre Jackson – the Bears’ leading scorer with 26 points in the first 25 minutes – and it altered Baylor’s offensive rhythm.

Iowa State cut the lead to 53-52 with 12 minutes to play on a Babb layup and kept the Bears’ lead within four until a 3-pointer by senior guard Scott Christopherson gave the Cyclones a 62-60 advantage with 7:07 to play. Baylor senior forward Quincy Acy trimmed Iowa State’s lead back down to two on a three-point play after Iowa State pushed their lead to 66-61. But a three by ISU junior guard Tyrus McGee and a pair of free throws from him one possession later gave the Cyclones a five-point, 69-64 lead that they would not relinquish.

Christopherson led five ISU players in double figures with 23 points, his fourth game of 20 or more points this season. Sophomore forward Melvin Ejim had 15 points, sophomore forward Royce White and senior guard Chris Allen scored 11 and Babb added 10 for Iowa State. Baylor’s Jackson put up a career-high 35 points and sophomore forward Perry Jones III chipped in with a 10 point, 12 rebound double-double in the Bears’ loss.

Turning Point

Losing their last lead at the 14:40 mark of the first half, the Cyclones twice cut Baylor’s lead down to one with less than eight minutes to play before Christopherson buried a 3-pointer from the left wing to give Iowa State a 62-60 lead. After increasing its lead to 64-61 following a pair of Ejim free throws, Iowa State’s defense held Baylor to only three shots over a three-minute span.

Another jumper from Christopherson at the 3:16 to-go mark gave the Cyclones a five-point advantage that they would slip down to two, but seven makes from the free throw line on their final eight attempts sealed the 80-72 victory.

X Factor

ISU guard Scott Christopherson

The sharpshooting senior went out in style in his final game at Hilton Coliseum, pouring in a team-high 23 points, including 14 in the second half. The LaCrosse, Wisc. native also matched a career-high with six assists in his final home game as a Cyclone.

By the numbers

0-10: Baylor’s all-time record at Hilton Coliseum.

9-0: Iowa State’s record this season when scoring 80 or more points.

15: points scored by sophomore forward Melvin Ejim, all in the second half.

21-1: Baylor’s record this season when leading at halftime.

35: points for Jackson, a career-high.

192: career 3-pointers made by Christopherson who broke out a tie with Dedric Willoughby (190, 1996-97) for second-place all-time in school history.

279: 3-pointers made this season by Iowa State, a new school record.

14,376: fans in attendance for Saturday’s game, the fourth time this season that Hilton Coliseum housed a crowd of that size.

Up next for Iowa State

The Cyclones finished the regular season 22-9, 12-6 Big 12 and will travel to the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, Miss. as the No. 3 seed. They will face either Texas or Kansas State on March 8 at 8:30 p.m.