Cyclone men learn another tough lesson

Jeremy Gustafson

LINCOLN, Neb. – Call it physical education.

It was another close game and another tough learning experience for the ISU men’s basketball team. This time in overtime against Nebraska on Saturday.

The 86-84 final score marked the fifth time in six Big 12 Conference losses that the Cyclones lost by five or fewer points.

“It sounds like a broken record, this happens every game,” said Tyray Pearson who scored a career-high 32 points. “We just have to find a way within ourselves to come away with these victories.”

Ross Buckendahl hit a three-point basket with 1:11 left to play in regulation to tie the score and John Robinson knocked in two free throws to seal the game in overtime.

“This is three games in four that we’ve had it tied with under a minute to go,” ISU head coach Larry Eustachy said. “It just didn’t work out.”

It almost did though.

Iowa State had the final shot with 2.4 seconds left to play. The play called for sharp-shooter Jake Sullivan to be a decoy and Marcus Jefferson to take the three-pointer at the buzzer.

“I thought he was gonna make it,” Eustachy said. “I really just had a gut feeling.”

Jefferson got open for the final shot, but it bounced off the backboard and then the front of the rim, falling to the floor.

“I thought we got a hell of a look,” Eustachy said.

So did Jefferson.

“It couldn’t have got any better than that,” Jefferson said of his look.

As the Nebraska students stormed the floor, Iowa State’s record dropped to 1-6, 9-12 overall. It’s the first time since 1993-94 the Cyclones have started so poorly in the conference.

“It doesn’t come down to that though,” said Jake Sullivan who scored 22 points. “We lost the game throughout parts of the game.”

Actually, the Cyclones lost key players throughout parts of the game when starters Omar Bynum and Shane Power and reserve big man Jared Homan all picked up five fouls.

“It was a tough game to officiate,” Eustachy said. “It was real physical. There were a lot of plays around the basket that forced officials to make decisions. I thought the officials tried as hard as the players. The officials didn’t determine this outcome, the players did.”

Physical may have been an understatement. A total of 52 fouls were called, 29 on Iowa State.

Iowa State made 24 of 31 free throws, 16 of 20 by Pearson, while Nebraska made 23 of 38.

But it was the loss of key players that hurt the Cyclones the most.

Power had 14 points, Bynum added four points and six rebounds and Homan was a presence in the lane.

“There’s a definite drop off after some guys,” Eustachy said of his bench. “It was just a gallant effort by us.”

But in the end, courage wasn’t enough. Defensively the Cyclones gave up 13 three-pointers to Nebraska and couldn’t keep the Huskers from driving to the lane.

“There’s times when we are 10 percent and there’s times when we are 90 percent,” Power said of his team’s defense.

Sullivan said the Cyclones need to start being more efficient.

“Part of it’s maturity, part of it’s just we’re young,” he said. “It’s not an excuse anymore, we’ve been through this enough.”

Iowa State is now 0-4 on the road in the Big 12 and with games at Texas Tech, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma the Cyclones are in serious danger of going 0-8 on the road in the conference for the first time since 1997-98.

“You can’t make any mistakes,” Pearson said. “You have to do everything near perfect down the stretch if you want to come out with big games on the road.”

Next up for Iowa State is Texas A&M. The Aggies will bring a 2-4 conference, 8-12 overall record into Hilton Coliseum at 7 on Tuesday night.