Is the Magic back?


Photo: Rebekka Brown/Iowa State Daily

Cyclone Alley reacts to Scott Christopherson’s winning 3-pointer that resulted in a Cyclone 71-68 victory over Oklahoma State.

Jeremiah Davis

There was something in the air in

Hilton Coliseum for several years. It was an aura that took over

when an elite opponent came to town or when a big game got close.

The so-called Cyclone Nation came together and made an actual

impact on the outcome of games.

Affectionately known by Cyclone fans

as “Hilton Magic,” the home-court advantage that once was, hasn’t

been around for some time. With a potential NCAA Tournament-bound

ISU men’s basketball team, the Magic may be coming back.

“Our fans have been unbelievable,

really all year,” said coach Fred Hoiberg. “We know our fans are

going to be here. I’ve seen it since I was four years old coming to

games. If you come out here and show an effort, the fans are going

to be behind you.”

Hoiberg’s story as a player is

well-documented, and “Hilton Magic” was in full swing when he was a

player at Iowa State from 1991-92 to 1994-95. When asked if the

Magic was back, Hoiberg smiled.

“It’s getting there,” Hoiberg said.

“The excitement is there. We’ve just got to continue to go out

there and try to play great basketball and give good effort and

keep the fans coming.”

Saturday’s game will be a good

barometer of the state of Hilton Magic. The Cyclones (14-6, 4-3 Big

12) host No. 5 Kansas to a sellout crowd, and the matchup has

traditionally been the biggest game of the year at home for Iowa


Hoiberg’s ISU teams beat Kansas

three times while he was a player and said he can’t wait for the

game to get here so he and his team can experience the


“There’s always a little something

extra special for the Kansas game,” Hoiberg said. “They come in

here — they’re as good a road team as anybody. So we’re going to

have to come out with great effort and intensity and get our crowd

into it early to try and get that home court advantage.”

Before practice on Thursday, several

players said Saturday’s matchup with the Jayhawks (17-3, 7-0) is a

payback game of sorts.

The Cyclones came close to making an

upset on Jan. 14, falling 82-73 after leading by as many as 12

points in the second half.

“[It’s] definitely a redemption game

for us,” said forward Royce White. “We felt like after [the loss to

Kansas], we were upset with ourselves. We kind of gave the game

away. We want to go out here and get it.”

White has become known this season

for feeding off the Hilton crowd, many times interacting with fans

after a big dunk or key moment in a game.

The players got to experience what

Allen Fieldhouse did for Kansas in the last meeting, and White said

Hilton mirrors that effect.

“[Hilton does] the same thing, I

would hope,” White said. “In some of our conference games here, you

can see it. It’s definitely top-two places to play in the Big


The ISU student section, known as

Cyclone Alley, is a student-organization that leads cheers and

organizes campaigns for games. Co-chairman Alex Jenson and

co-chairwoman Brittany Kuntz lead the organization. For the Kansas

game, they created a contest where fans can create a poster and

submit them on Facebook. The winner will get four tickets to the


Within the game, Jenson and Kuntz

believe the students have an impact on the game, and the atmosphere

keeps the fans coming back.

“One of biggest reasons students

love to come to the games is for that big, giant atmosphere that

they love,” Kuntz said. “All the students get excited, you get

caught up in the moment.”

Kansas will bring potential

Player-of-the-Year candidate Thomas Robinson with them, as well as

veteran guard Tyshawn Taylor, who’s been on a hot streak that

started with the second half of the Iowa State game in Lawrence,


Whether or not Hilton Magic as

Hoiberg knew it as a player is back, only time — and potentially

Saturday’s game — will tell. Senior guard Scott Christopherson said

the atmosphere Saturday will certainly be in the Cyclones’


“I think obviously it’s exciting,

playing in a nationally televised game in front of a sellout

crowd,” Christopherson said. “It doesn’t get better as far as the