‘We made history, man’: Cyclones keep magic going to the Sweet 16


Collin Maguire/Iowa State Daily

George Conditt IV and the Iowa State Cyclones are headed to the Sweet 16.

Matt Belinson

MILWAUKEE — Gabe Kalscheur and Izaiah Brockington were lost for words.

The Cyclones’ two senior guards laughed at an attempt to process questions funneling in as to how a program picked to finish last in the Big 12 before the season began is headed to the Sweet 16. 

Seven new players. A new coaching staff. A top-tier conference in their way.

That’s right, the Cyclones are going to the Sweet 16.

Iowa State defeated the Wisconsin Badgers 54-49 Sunday in Milwaukee, Wis., advancing to the Sweet 16 for the sixth time in school history and the first time since the 2015-16 season. 

“We made history, man,” Iowa State guard Gabe Kalscheur said.

The Cyclones’ senior guard fired up the crowd and made his emotions clear on and off the court during and after Iowa State’s victory over the Badgers. Kalscheur put up 22 points on 10-19 shooting, his most points since Jan. 15 against Texas when he had 22.

Kalscehur guarded Wisconsin’s star player Johnny Davis for most of the game and got into chippy discussions after back-and-forth buckets and defensive stops on the Big 10 Player of the Year.

Davis ended his night 4-16 from the field with 17 points.

But Kalscheur, who’s spent most of the season soft-spoken and willing to let others speak their mind freely to the media, didn’t mince words when asked what playing Wisconsin meant to him as a former Big 10 guard himself.

“I ain’t never really like Wisconsin to be honest,” Kalscheur said. “It fueled my fire for sure.”

The first half wasn’t pretty, with 20 fouls called and 20 made shots between the two teams. Five Cyclones walked into the locker room with at least two fouls, including George and Robert Jones with three each.

For context, the Cyclones had 19 fouls against them in their win over LSU on Friday.

But the Badgers shot themselves out of the game, going 6-26 from the field in the second half, including 1-14 from three. The Cyclones shot below 30 percent themselves in the second half, but relied on their defense to create 13 points off turnovers courtesy of the Badgers after getting four in the first half.

That’s Iowa State basketball. And T.J. Otzelberger wouldn’t want it any other way as the Cyclones continue their magical dance.

“We didn’t set out for a certain win total or to do anything based on what transpired in the past,” Otzelberger said postgame. “What we did set out to do is restore pride to a program I love so much.”

Izaiah Brockington admitted ahead of Iowa State’s Senior Night on March 2 that coming to Iowa State came with risks. It’s not like he didn’t see the Cyclones won just two games last year.

And now, after taking the Cyclones to the Sweet 16, Brockington couldn’t hide his smile in the aftermath of the Cyclones’ historic win.

“It’s unbelievable. Just to think of where we started in June, a group that was so new to each other and was going out there with the object of turning things around, getting as many wins as we could,” Brockington said. “To end up here is a blessing man.”

“I couldn’t say, ‘mission accomplished.’ I mean we’re still on a mission.”

Iowa State will face the Miami Hurricanes in the Sweet 16 at 8:45 p.m. Friday in Chicago, Ill.