Iowa State loses key turnover battle, falls to Miami in Sweet 16


Jacob Rice/Iowa State Daily

Iowa State guard Tyrese Hunter walks back to the bench during Iowa State’s 70-56 loss to the Miami Hurricanes in the Sweet 16 on March 25 in Chicago, Ill.

James Powell

CHICAGO — The usual Hilton Magic made its way to Milwaukee, Wis., in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament.

It missed the Cyclones’ take-off to Chicago, as Iowa State’s surprising run in the NCAA tournament ended in the Sweet 16, where the Cyclones fell to the Miami Hurricanes, 70-56, Friday at the United Center.

A battle of two pesky teams that each force their fair share of turnovers was closely contested early on. The Hurricanes got out to a lead early thanks to a 7-0 run before the Cyclones punched back to take an 8-7 lead in the early stages of the first half.

Miami then took a 10-8 lead and would not relinquish it for the remainder of the game.

It was a tight game for much of the first half, with each team trading solid defensive efforts that led to a 32-29 Hurricane lead at halftime. Iowa State was able to hang around thanks to 17 combined points from Izaiah Brockington, Gabe Kalscheur and Tyrese Hunter, with George Conditt contributing eight points off the bench.

The battle of the guards was won by Miami in the first half, however, as their two leading scorers through the first 20 minutes were Kameron McGusty and Jordan Miller with 24 combined points and 77 percent of their shots made.

Both teams have been known all season for their solid guard play and aggression on the ball led by their ability to trap on the wings. That trapping mentality was also present in the first half, as the two teams combined for 17 turnovers.

Iowa State Head Coach T.J. Otzelberger knew the battle of turnovers would be a key margin to win if the Cyclones wanted to pull out a victory and praised the Hurricanes for their efforts in that regard.

“Miami deserves a lot of credit,” Otzelberger said to open his postgame comments. “They’re a very well coached, very well-prepared veteran team, we knew tonight coming in that the turnover battle would be one that would have a significant impact on the win and they did a better job than we did in terms of creating disruption and live-ball turnovers.”

In the second half, Iowa State started missing more shots and Miami continued their strong shooting performance to pull away.

Again, it was defined largely by the guards. Brockington and Kalscheur combined to shoot 5-15 in the final 20 minutes and Hunter had his own struggles, shooting 4-10 from the floor.

When asked if there were any second-half adjustments the Hurricanes put forth to try and take control of the game, Kalscheur doesn’t think there were any differences, rather just more of the same from Miami that allowed them to extend the lead.

“I wouldn’t say they really did much different,” Kalscheur said. “They were just in the gaps, stringing out the ball screens.”

Whatever occurred in certainly worked in favor of the Hurricanes. Iowa State shot just 31 percent in the second half, made three of their 14 three-point attempts and turned the ball over nine times as they watched the game get out of reach.

On the flip side, Miami didn’t fare much better, making just 44 percent of their attempts from the field. Still, it was enough timely shots made and timely turnovers forced on defense that led them to the 14-point win.

In all, the Hurricanes scored 70 points, the most Iowa State has allowed in a tournament game so far and its most points allowed in a non-conference game since the contest against Xavier in Brooklyn early in the season.

They have stifled non-Big 12 foes all season long and still forced their Sweet 16 opponent into 14 turnovers, Miami’s most since Jan. 29 when they had 16 against Georgia Tech.

But the offense couldn’t hold its own and the result was a season-ending loss.

It’s been an improbable run for the Cyclones, that much is obvious. They were unanimously picked to finish last and coming off a 2-22 season, much of the expectations were warranted.

But Otzelberger took charge of this team and led them to their first NCAA tournament berth in three years. He did it with a tenacity, aggression and habit-building culture that spread to his players and allowed them to lean on those habits to get them through the first two rounds of the tournament.

In the always-abrupt end of these winner-take-all atmospheres, it may be hard to find perspective. Brockington, Iowa State’s leading offensive force and noted leader all season long, was able to sum his sentiments up postgame.

“[We] just want to be remembered as a group that gave their all and beat all the odds… I hope we made them proud back in Iowa,” Brockington said.