What you missed


Guard Diante Garrett moves the ball down the court during the game against Texas Southern on Sunday. Garrett and Scott Christopherson lead the team in scoring with a total of 16 points for each of them.

Chris Cuellar

The Cyclones have seen a full season’s worth of adversity, and there are still at least 16 Big 12 conference games left to play.

Coach Fred Hoiberg and his squad have battled through injuries, a suspension, another program departure and have even added Cyclone football players to the roster to fill in for the lack of depth. The team has done all of this while running an up-tempo offense and is a late foul at Nebraska away from being 14-2 when No. 3 Kansas comes to Ames on Wednesday.

Picked to finish last in the Big 12, it’s more than fair to say the Cyclones have exceeded expectations.

Here’s a quick primer on what you missed over break – on and off the court – for the Cyclones:

Dec. 19 vs. Dartmouth

Win 71-42

Key Player: G Diante Garrett — 27 points, 10/16 FG, 6 assists

Event: Brainpower can only make up for so much on the court. The Ivy League’s Big Green was only down by one heading into halftime against the much longer and more athletic Cyclones but fell apart completely in the second half. Garrett scored his 1,000th point as a Cyclone, and the ISU defense stepped up, holding Dartmouth to just four second-half field goals. It was the team’s first game in a week, and it looked like the Cyclones were ready to sprint through the winter break.

Dec. 21 vs. Chicago State

Win 104-63

Key Player: F Melvin Ejim — 18 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals

Event: One of the nation’s worst defenses was put on display at Hilton Coliseum as Iowa State went on a scoring binge against the Windy City’s Cougars. Putting 59 points on the board before halftime and forcing 24 CSU turnovers, Iowa State gave the reserves plenty of minutes and leveled the scoring around. It was a great way to send the Cyclones into a nine day lay-off. Guard DeMarcus Phillips, a junior college transfer that had only seen reserve time for the Cyclones this season, decided to transfer following this game and left the program.

Dec. 30 @ Virginia

Win 60-47

Key Player: F Jamie Vanderbeken — 24 points, 8 rebounds, 9/12 FG, 5/8 3-pt FG

Event: The young Cyclones took their first trip out of the state of Iowa for a non-conference road game to take on the middling Cavaliers. It was a low-scoring effort by both clubs, but Virginia had too much trouble finding the bottom of the net and couldn’t catch up to a big ISU lead. Vanderbeken’s shooting carried the squad on a night the defense allowed the Cavaliers to shoot just 32 percent. A win in the squad’s first true road game against an ACC opponent aided Iowa State’s confidence as the team geared up for a step up in competition.

Jan. 3 vs. Northern Illinois

Win 72-63

Key Player: G Jake Anderson — 16 points, 5 rebounds, held NCAA No. 3 scorer Xavier Silas to 18 points

Event: In what was supposed to be an important game, for the simple fact that Jake Anderson was taking on his former team, blew up into a circus. Freshman center Jordan Railey would be suspended following a single-car accident on New Year’s Day, Scott Christopherson would be held out to prevent aggravating his elbow injury, and two football players would be added to the roster and put in uniform on the same day. The game itself was tight for most of the way, with the Cyclones struggling to find consistent offense and missing shots by the boatload. The team fought through all the problems, and came up with a big win to avenge Anderson in the final non-conference game of the year.

Jan. 8 @ Nebraska

Loss 63-62

Key Player: Diante Garrett — 18 points, 8/16 FG, 5 TO

Event: A stinging defeat for the young Cyclones, who came back from 12 points down in the second half to lose on a free throw with 0.4 seconds left in the first Big 12 game of the year. For a program that has struggled to win conference road games in recent years, coming back to take the lead late against the improved Cornhuskers was a big step. But in a final possession turnover, forward Melvin Ejim fouled Nebraska’s Lance Jeter as he was breaking away for a buzzer-beating layup. Jeter made his second free throw shot, propelling Nebraska and leaving the Cyclones wondering what could have been.