Cyclones lose tight first-round game to the Buffaloes, 77-75

Chris Cuellar

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It all seemed too simple of a conclusion to Iowa State’s season.

The Cyclones (16-16) dropped their first-round game in the Big 12 Tournament to Colorado on Wednesday, 77-75, giving up a late lead like so many times before.

The Buffaloes (20-12) ended the game on a 13-5 run after being down 70-64 with just three minutes to play, and Iowa State could just watch as its season ended.

“We played pretty well through the first 38 minutes,” said ISU senior guard Diante Garrett. “Then Alec Burks put on a show, he made some plays in the clutch. They battled to come back, those last two minutes; we want those back.”

Iowa State was led by strong senior efforts from guys that just didn’t want their careers to end. Jake Anderson had a career-high 33 points and Garrett added 19, as no other Cyclones scored in double-digits.

“We executed well, but they out-rebounded us. That hurt, they got second-chance points, it could have been a lot of things,” said senior forward Jamie Vanderbeken. “When Jake’s playing like he was today, it’s really hard for us to be stopped. I shot the ball horribly, thought I let the team down.”

Unfortunately for the elder Cyclones, Colorado had guard Alec Burks, and he chose the Big 12 Tournament as his platform to garner talk for the NBA Draft, scoring 29 points and grabbed 15 rebounds and had six assists.

Burks scored seven points in the last three minutes of the game.

“He’s big time,” said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg. “Thought he was a lottery pick before the game. I still think that.”

The loss added just another game to the list full of them that Iowa State has let slip away.

Shots that looked in, fell out.

Shots by the other team that looked impossible to make that somehow found the bottom of the net.

The Cyclones saw them all Wednesday, running into a seemingly inevitable wall.

“We had a lot of shots that we normally make, that Scott [Christopherson] normally makes, that I normally make, that Calvin [Godfrey] normally makes; it just was tough for us today,” Garrett said.

Add to this loss that it concludes the season and it came against a team Iowa State beat just a week ago? Players were somber in the locker room after the game trying to absorb it all.

“We’ve been there every game almost,” Vanderbeken said. “Just another one where we had the lead late. A great player made great plays down the stretch and we just couldn’t hold on.”

Freshman forward Calvin Godfrey was frustrated after the loss, putting up just seven points and eight rebounds after posting a career game against Colorado on March 2. At times, Godfrey was able to grab rebounds over the less physical Buffaloes, but after assigning more pressure onto the 6-foot-8-inch forward in the second half, his impact was lessened.

“It seemed like we would do something good, then they would do something good, like we were going tit-for-tat with the shots,” Godfrey said. “As the game progressed there was more focus on me, more attention on me and more pressure on me.”

The Cyclones haven’t won a game at the Big 12 Tournament since the 2004-2005 season. Colorado now advances to play Kansas State in the second round.

Iowa State is 3-9 all-time in first round games at this tournament.