ISU men lose another close game, see losses as building blocks


Forward Royce White dunks two extra points during the ISU-UNI game Wednesday, Nov. 30, at Hilton Coliseum. White put up 15 points during the game, but at the end of the night, the Panthers defeated the Cyclones 69-62.

Jeremiah Davis

LAWRENCE, Kan. — For the ISU men’s basketball team, it was another top-10 team, another blown lead on Saturday in its 82-73 loss to No. 10 Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Cyclones (12-5, 2-2 Big 12) led by 12 three minutes into the second half, but over the next 9:31, the Jayhawks (14-3, 4-0) outscored Iowa State by 21 — including a 17-2 run during one stretch.

“If you come in here to this building and have that type of drought and if you let it bother you and affect you and you lose your mental focus, it’s going to be tough to win,” said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg. “That’s when they go on their 10-nothing, 15-nothing runs. It’s a very tough place to play. It’s as loud a building as we’ll play in.”

The Cyclones got a strong offensive performance out of senior Chris Allen, who’s seen his fair share of big moments while playing at Michigan State.

Allen agreed with his coach that the team lost some focus during the run by the Jayhawks, but also felt Kansas got help from elsewhere to take the lead.

“I don’t wanna make excuses, but you watched the game just like we all watched the game,” Allen said. “It’s our fault we let the refs keep them in the game and had a couple of B.S. calls that kind of made us sink fown a little bit.

“But we kept picking it back up, and like I said, we got to play the refs out of the game in that situation because we are up 10 for most of the game and then we got down. They go on a little run, tie the game up the last 10 minutes of the game and then the refs at that point, if [the Jayhawks] get up, it’s over and that’s what happened.”

As Hoiberg said, Allen Fieldhouse is known around the country as one of the toughest venues in which to play.

Hoiberg said he’s been watching KU teams use their home court advantage for years. The Cyclones had the crowd all but taken out of the game in the first half, but the Jayhawk run changed that in a hurry.

Allen said he wasn’t bothered by the volume inside “the Phog,” and that he did his best to keep his teammates focused and not distracted by the crowd.

“I honestly didn’t hear the crowd,” Allen said. “I was was in our team’s head more than the crowd was. Any time something happened, I’m talking to somebody, just ’cause I know [with] this type of game, this type of environment, it’s easy to be thinking about, ‘Dang, look at all these people’ and forget about the play you’ve got to run.

“It’s easy. I’ve done it plenty of times. I was just trying to talk to [my teammates] and get them going without the crowd getting them down.”

Allen stopped short of saying the crowd affected Iowa State to the point that it cost them a victory. He said the KU crowd “played a big part,” but not the sole reason for the loss.

With losses to the No. 9 and No. 10 teams in the country in back-to-back games — both of which Iowa State led at halftime — the players believe the setbacks are going to set the team up for success in the future because they’ve seen what the team is capable of when things are going well.

“I think it’s only going to make us greater,” said forward Melvin Ejim, who finished with 12 points and six rebounds. “That’s two top-10 teams where we were right there, and you know, it easily could’ve been our game. We can play with anyone in the country, and we feel we can beat anyone in the country.”

Ejim said it’s all a matter of finishing games and capitalizing on the things they do through the final buzzer.

“We’re right there for three quarters of the game, but towards the end we give out a little,” Ejim said. “We just need to focus on playing for the full 40 minutes and we can be tehre at the top 25 teams in the country, I believe.”

Forward Royce White led the Cyclones with 18 points, 17 rebounds and four assists. He, like Ejim, said he believes Iowa State can be as good as anyone if they limit self-inflicted mistakes.

“We lost [the Kansas] game, and we had them beat. You know, in my opinion, we beat ourselves again,” White said. “We had Missouri beat, even though I was in foul trouble in that game, and that played a factor. But if they’re the No. 9 and 10 team in the country, we must be No. 11. I would say we’d be No. 8, but we just didn’t come up with the ‘W’.”

For Hoiberg, he said his team’s effort and focus was very good against Kansas. The second-year coach said he too believes the close losses to highly-ranked teams are something the squad can build on for the rest of the Big 12 season.

“I think we do [build off the losses],” Hoiberg said. “I’ve loved our focus since conference play has started. It’s a group that, this will bother them a lot. The Missouri game bothered them a lot, and we came out with great energy [Saturday] in the game, and I anticipate we’ll do that same thing on Wednesday.”