Cyclones freeze out Texas Southern 65-54

Chris Cuellar

It wasn’t the definitive blow-out Cyclone fans had hoped for after a win against rival Iowa on Friday, but the Cyclones found a way to beat struggling Texas Southern 65-54 on Sunday evening.

Iowa State (9-2) shot just 36.7 percent from the floor against the Tigers (1-7), but double-digits from three players and just eight turnovers gave the home team a way to win on a freezing night outside Hilton Coliseum.

“I thought our energy was good early as this is a really, really tough game to play,” said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg. “With a short turnaround, and coming off the emotional win against Iowa, to come out and re-focus this quickly on a cold night with finals tomorrow, I knew it was going to be a tough one.”

Hoiberg’s club came out of the tunnel and opened up a quick 14-2 lead, but it evaporated against a scrappy Texas Southern squad that has taken on tough competition all season-long. The Tigers only win came against Pac-10 squad Oregon State, and the Cyclones knew they had their hands full, especially coming off of a quick turnaround from the high-intensity Hawkeye game.

“It was an emotional win on Friday, but we just had to re-focus and get ready for today and I think we did do that,” said senior point guard Diante Garrett.

The key to Friday’s road win were three-pointers at important times. All game seemed a good enough time for the Cyclones to pop from distance, throwing up 19 attempts in the first half, and finishing the game 7-of-28 from behind the arc. A lack of inside scoring has hurt ISU all year, but against the smaller Tigers, Iowa State waited until the second half to work it into the paint. Guards Garrett and Scott Christopherson led ISU with 16 points each.

“They were able to stay in the zone [defense] because of the fact that we missed some shots that we normally knock down,” Hoiberg said. “I attribute that to heavy legs. Our guys played so many minutes the other night, to have to come back and play this quickly, you could just tell. Guys were missing short and they were missing wide open shots they usually make.”

Depth inside hasn’t been a staple of Hoiberg’s young team, but the Cyclones didn’t go very deep into the lineup, running out just eight players on the game and Calvin Godfrey was the only non-starter to have his warm-ups off for more than five minutes. Four of the five starters logged at least 36 minutes Sunday.

“I only played Scott 39 [minutes] tonight, so he got a little rest,” the first year coach said sarcastically as Christopherson logged all 40 possible minutes on Friday. “I just went with who I felt comfortable with. The other factor in that is we don’t have another game for a week, so I felt that we could ride them and get them some good rest this week to get their legs back.”

Texas Southern’s Travele Jones led all scorers with 22 points and added nine rebounds. The Tigers have had just one game at home so far this season and won’t have another home game until Jan 15, a rarity in college basketball.

“I’ve never been apart of anything like that. I know the turnaround for them coming out here in this snow and this cold, I know they weren’t expecting this,” Garrett said.

The opposite of that is Iowa State’s next home game, as the Cyclones host Ivy League school Dartmouth University after finals week. The game against the Mean Green tips off at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 19.