Do you believe in magic?: Iowa State completes 20-point comeback to top Iowa

Monté Morris celebrates in the tunnel after hitting a game winning shot against Iowa on Thursday night.

Chris Wolff

Jameel McKay headed back toward the defensive end of the court, his No. 4 Cyclones down one point with only 51 seconds remaining, against their biggest rival — the unranked Iowa Hawkeyes.

Georges Niang had just hit a pair of free throws and McKay was looking for a little help.

The help wasn’t coming from his teammates and not from the ISU fans, but from somewhere else.

He was looking for magic, the kind ISU players and fans have come to believe resides within the friendly confines of Hilton Coliseum.

“Come on, magic,” McKay muttered. “Come on, magic.”

McKay got what he was looking for.

“You know Hilton Magic is going to happen, you just don’t know when,” McKay said. “And it happened. I knew [if] we get a stop, we would win the game. That was never a doubt in my mind.”

Iowa point guard Mike Gesell missed a jumper with 22 seconds left. Iowa’s Jarrod Uthoff pulled down the offensive rebound, but the shot clock expired.

The Cyclones had one final chance to take the lead, which had eluded Iowa State since it led 4-3 with 17:36 left in the first half.

With nine seconds left, Monté Morris, nicknamed ‘Big Game,’ brought the ball up the court. McKay was supposed to come up and set a screen for Morris, but that plan never came to fruition.

“I got out of his way,” McKay said. “I let him be the player he is.”

Morris delivered, hitting a picture-perfect floater to put the Cyclones up, 83-82, with just seconds remaining. Uthoff would get one more shot at the game, but his 3-pointer clanked off the rim and the ISU faithful stormed the court.

Courtesy of Hilton Magic, and a clutch shot by ‘Big Game,’ the 20-point comeback was completed.

Earlier this season, Morris said he always plays better when his mom is at his games. She was there for Morris’ game-winner against Texas in the first round of the Big 12 tournament last season.

Against Iowa, she was there to witness the same result.

“I made two game winners in front of her so far,” Morris said. “I’m undefeated in front of my mom.”

Iowa State’s last minute comeback is impressive on its own, but even more so when considering Iowa State had to erase a massive deficit. 

At Hilton Coliseum, the Cyclones have proven they may be down, but never out. That sentiment has prevailed in Iowa State’s huge 21-point comeback against Oklahoma last season, and the Cyclones’ comeback win against the Hawkeyes last time the CyHawk game came to Hilton Coliseum two seasons ago. 

“Crazy things have happened in this building,” said Matt Thomas, who scored 19 points off the bench. “Like Jameel said, until the clock says zero, you just got to keep fighting.”

On Monday, Georges Niang told reporters he wanted to known how Jarrod Uthoff would perform as the two seniors went to battle in their final CyHawk matchup.

“They really play around him,” Niang said of Uthoff at a press conference on Monday. “Be interesting to see if he’s going to come out more aggressive than he has in the past years.”

Niang quickly got his answer.

With Niang in his face, Uthoff hit his third 3-pointer of the game still early in the first half. Niang turned toward ISU coach Steve Prohm and looked at his coach as if to ask, “What am I supposed to do?”

Uthoff seemingly couldn’t miss, as he scored 30 points in the first half on 11-of-13 shooting, sending Iowa State into the locker room down 14 points.

The Cyclones clamped down on Uthoff in the second half, allowing the senior only two points. Iowa’s Peter Jok took the reigns of the Hawkeyes’ offense, scoring 14 points in the first five minutes of the second half, but Iowa State began to chip away.

“We just needed to get it to single digits,” Prohm said.

A Morris fast-break dunk did just that with 9:35 left. It was cut to five points with eight minutes to go. A Georges Niang 3-pointer cut it a single point with 5:55 left. It went back and forth from that point, with Iowa building its lead back up, just to have it taken away again in dramatic fashion in the closing minute.

Down six points with 1:42 left, Thomas hit a corner 3-pointer to cut it back to three with just over a minute remaining. Iowa State put on a press, and McKay’s length forced Iowa into a 5-second violation. With 51 seconds left, Niang hit a pair of free throws to cut it back to one.

That’s when McKay started looking for the magic. A defensive stop and a Morris floater later, he found his answer.

Hilton Magic?

“That’s the only magic I truly believe in,” McKay said.