ISU men’s basketball picks up ‘signature win’ against 5th-ranked Kansas


Royce White passes to a teammate around a Kansas guard in the first half of the game Saturday, Jan. 28. The Cyclone men’s basketball team upset No. 5 Kansas 72-64.

Jeremiah Davis

In the 2011-12 academic year, two top five teams have come to Ames and two have left with losses.

On Saturday, it was the ISU men’s basketball team’s turn to be serenaded with “Sweet Caroline” following the 72-64 upset win against No. 5 Kansas, just as the ISU football team was after upsetting No. 2 Oklahoma State.

“Hilton Magic was definitely in full effect today,” said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg.

The Cyclones (15-6, 5-3 Big 12) ended a 13-game losing streak to the Jayhawks (17-4, 7-1), which included seven straight at home, dating back to Jan. 31, 2004. It was also the team’s first win against a top five opponent at home since Jan. 14, 1995, when Iowa State beat then-No. 3 Kansas.

Guard Scott Christopherson said he was happy the team corrected issues they’ve been dealing with. But knowing Hilton Coliseum hadn’t seen win like Saturday’s in several years, the senior said he was just as happy for Cyclone fans.

“This is my fourth year here, and they’ve been through some bad times and still keep coming,” Christopherson said. “It’s great to have that kind of support.”

Hoiberg — who’s been going to games at Hilton Coliseum since he was a young boy — said the win meant a lot to him personally.

Having been a part of so many matchups with Kansas, Hoiberg said that makes the win all the more special knowing what kind of tradition and record the Jayhawks have over the years.

“There’s always something extra special about the Kansas game — always something a little extra in the air,” Hoiberg said. “I have so much respect for that program. Just to be able to compete against [coach Bill Self] and this program for as long as I have, to play [in] eight games … they’ve just continued that tradition.”

While the players and coach gave a lot of credit to the atmosphere in Hilton, the bigger credit was given to the maturation of the team when playing down the stretch in close games.

Forward Royce White led the team, ending the game with 18 points, nine rebounds and five assists. With a 56-53 lead and 4:33 remaining, White scored eight straight points — including two free throws — for the Cyclones and effectively sealed the win.

“I wanted to stay aggressive,” White said. “My teammates kept believing in me, and we did what we needed to do.”

Hoiberg, who has been frustrated at times this season with his teams’ play in adverse situations and late in games, only had praise for his team following the win.

He said it’s the best he’s seen his team play all season.

“Our offense down the stretch — that was as poised as we’ve played,” Hoiberg said. “In the past, we’ve gotten a bit sped up and rushed some things that caused turnovers or led to bad shots.

“We executed [today].”

Hoiberg said the win has the ability to do great things for the program, as the team picked up one of the so-called “signature wins” that ISU football coach Paul Rhoads has become known for.

Even with that, the second-year coach said the win won’t do anything if the Cyclones can’t keep the momentum rolling.

“It’s a huge win for our program,” Hoiberg said. “But like I told our guys, you’ve got to expect to win your home games. This win doesn’t mean anything if we don’t go out and take care of business on Tuesday [against No. 24 Kansas State].”