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Best games of the Iowa State men’s basketball season

Tyler Coe
Milan Momcilovic walks off the court with Keshon Gilbert’s arm around his shoulder after Iowa State beats undefeated Houston 57-53 at Hilton Coliseum on Jan. 9, 2023.

Christian Royston, Sports Editor

No. 12 Iowa State at No. 18 Baylor
Final: Baylor 70, Iowa State 68

Now, I know it seems weird to list a loss as one of the games of the year, but you have to admit, the Baylor game was downright entertaining to the final buzzer.

The second half might have been the craziest 20 minutes of the season, as Iowa State nearly dug out of a massive hole to put together a miracle win on the road against one of the best teams in the Big 12. Between Scott Drew’s ejections leading to a 14-3 run to Keshon Gilbert’s wild night from beyond the arc to Tamin Lipsey’s late heroics, it was entertaining through and through.

With the game coming down to the final buzzer, no one else could come up big in the clutch like true-freshman Milan Momcilovic. I will be honest, when his shot fell at the final buzzer, I jumped to my feet, but that excitement was short lived as replay showed he got the ball off a tenth of a second too late.

The game really proved how good Iowa State was going to be going forward. The Cyclones competed to the final buzzer against not only a top team in the Big 12, but in the nation. With how hard it is to win on the road in the Big 12, the Cyclones proved that they can hang.

No. 14 Iowa State at Texas
Final: Iowa State 70, Texas 65

Following the Baylor loss, the Cyclones picked up a huge win on the road against Texas.

With Texas leaving for the SEC, this matchup became extra important.

The Cyclones were electric on offense and defense throughout the matchup. The first half saw Iowa State build up a large lead that would not vanish. Although there were hiccups in the second half, Lipsey again stepped up and closed out the game.

The win was big for Iowa State in terms of separating itself from the middle of the Big 12. The Cyclones looked like the top dog they ended up being.

Plus, keeping former-Cyclone Tyrese Hunter to zero points was just an added bonus.

No. 6 Iowa State vs. No. 20 BYU
Final: Iowa State 68, BYU 63

The last game of the year was a senior night spectacle that was a nice cherry on top for Iowa State’s season.

The first half was something I think we all want to forget, as BYU was a team that seemed to have Iowa State’s card throughout the entire season. The Cougars were the Cyclones’ natural enemy.

Keshon Gilbert and Hason Ward celebrate on the court after Iowa State completes the 14 point comeback against BYU on Mar. 6, 2023. (Tyler Coe)

However, the second half could only be explained as magic. The Cyclones took over from everywhere on the field, as crucial threes were hitting with ease. In my opinion, and based on what T.J. Otzelberger said after the game, Hilton Coliseum had never been louder.

Combine the exhilarating crowd with the scoreless final minutes, and the second half was the accumulation of how good Iowa State was throughout the season. There really was no better way to finish the undefeated home season.

Logan Shanks, Assistant Sports Editor

No. 24 Iowa State at No. 19 TCU
Final: Iowa State 73, TCU 72

I will always remember this game as the coming out party for Curtis Jones and Gilbert in Big 12 play. Not only were the Cyclones coming off of a depleting blowout loss to BYU, but this was also going to be their first game of the season without Lipsey.

Jones got the nod to replace Lipsey and was a key factor in the Cyclones’ road win against the Horned Frogs. His seven steals left him one away from matching Lipsey’s single-game record which was set against Prairie View A&M, and part of Iowa State’s 27 forced turnovers.

Before this game, Gilbert and Jones had not found success translating their games into conference play. But against TCU, they combined for 37 points on 14-of-27 shooting from the field.

The supporting cast definitely helped in this one, but this is when things ultimately turned around for two key pieces in the Cyclones offense this season. Looking back, this was a statement win for two guys who needed a breakout game, and it came at a crucial time for the shorthanded Cyclones looking to rebound after their loss to BYU.

Iowa State vs. No. 2 Houston
Final: Iowa State 57, Houston 53

The setting could not have been better for this game, which kicked off an entertaining three-game season-long series between the Cyclones and the Cougars. In the middle of a blizzard, the fans at Hilton still showed out, despite the students still being on winter break.

Those that were in attendance ended up being in store for an all-time classic.

Iowa State entered the matchup as underdogs at home, something the program is not accustomed to, and the team started the game on fire. The Cyclones were up 14-0 after the opening six minutes, which kept the Cougars on their heels the whole game.

Although the Cyclones went into halftime with a 10-point lead, Houston stormed back in the second half to make it a back-and-forth affair for the rest of the way. The defense from both teams stayed on point throughout the game, with each team finishing the game shooting below 39% from the field.

Milan Momcilovic makes the game winning jump shot against Houston at Hilton Coliseum on Jan. 9, 2023. Iowa State wins 57-53. (Tyler Coe)

The best part about this game in my opinion is that it did not come down to a single performance, but rather a shot that will go down in history.

With the game tied at 53 and under a minute left to play, Iowa State turned to Momcilovic to sink his signature fadeaway. Nothing but net, Cyclones up by two with 31 seconds left, and a shot that will go down as one of the most iconic in program history.

No. 23 Iowa State vs. No. 7 Kansas
Final: Iowa State 79, Kansas 75

No one summed it up better than Hunter Dickinson after the game as a truly unexpected performance from the Cyclones. Not only were they shooting the three better than they had all season, but were led in that department by Tre King with four threes.

If I am being honest, I did not even know that was part of King’s game, and his performance against the Jayhawks established himself as an unexpected threat from deep the rest of the season.

Much like the Houston game, the Jayhawks and the Cyclones traded blows throughout the second half, but neither really took control. A 7-0 run by Kansas cut Iowa State’s lead down to two, and the Cyclones were in need of a dagger with under a minute left.

Gilbert answered the call, top of the key with two defenders sagging off, nothing but net. Hilton erupted, and after the final buzzer, the fans joined the Cyclones in celebration on the court.

Another all-time game that I was lucky enough to be in attendance for. The Iowa State and Kansas rivalry has heated up as one of the best in the nation, and the teams have been delivering in the last few matchups.

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