Last-second magic: Cyclones advance on buzzer beating shot


Sophomore guard Monte Morris hit the game-winning and buzzer-beating shot at the Big 12 Championship quarterfinal game against Texas on March 12 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. After trailing behind the whole game, the Cyclones came back and won 69-67.

Max Dible

KANSAS CITY, Mo.— Dustin Hogue in-bounds the ball to Monte Morris with five ticks remaining on the clock. The Cyclones will rely on their point guard, a man they refer to simply as, “Big Time” to carry them home.

Morris dribbles the ball up the right side of the court. The game is tied 67-67. No. 13 Iowa State trailed Texas by 10 points with 3:35 to play, but just like the ISU fan base, Hilton magic travels well. 

Morris takes two steps inside the 3-point line and lifts up above defender DeMarcus Holland, while fading away at the same time. Morris buries the shot. The buzzer sounds.

Iowa State advances to the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament.

The Cyclones trailed or were tied with Longhorns for 39:59 of the two teams’ second round contest, but the Cyclones held the advantage when it counted most—when the clock read nothing but zeroes.

“Well, that’s all that matters right?” Georges Niang asks rhetorically.

It was all that mattered. For 10 minutes during the first half, not only did Iowa State fail to convert on even one field goal—it didn’t score a point. At halftime the Cyclones trailed by 11. They were down by double-digits with fewer than four minutes. None of it mattered. All that mattered was the shot—and the win.

“At the time, you are just hoping and praying it goes in,” Morris said of his dramatic game-winner. “I got a great look at it and got the ball in for us and we [were] able to walk off the court with a victory.”

The contest appeared precarious almost from the opening tip. The Longhorns started off the game on fire from deep, shooting 6-of-12 from long range in the first half.

“It did not feel like they were missing any,” Niang said of a first half from Texas that he described as a barrage. “It felt like every time we scored, they’d have an answer.”

The context of the game was much the same in the latter 20 minutes. Iowa State would put together a run, Texas would regroup.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Until the final three minutes and change, when the Cyclones turned the contest on its head.

Iowa State employed a press, playing with an urgency—playing to win. Texas, on the other hand, employed a gimmick for the second consecutive time against Iowa State.

During the teams’ previous meeting in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 21, the Longhorns trailed by 12 late in the second half. In an attempt to catapult themselves back into contention, they ground the game to a halt, employing a “hack-a-Cyclone” strategy that did cut the lead but was not enough to earn them the victory.

Texas appeared content to slow its offensive game to a snail’s pace again during the final few minutes on March 12, trying desperately to run out the clock. The Longhorns found out what happens when a team tries to dribble its way to a win against the Cyclones.

Despite the slow down, at least on the Longhorn’s half of the court, the game’s final moments dripped with intensity as “Hilton South” boomed. Initially, it was a chorus booing, as the ISU fans found themselves discontented with the refereeing.

Then, it transformed into cheers of elation after Iowa State’s second unlikely comeback in three games.

ISU coach Fred Hoiberg called the scene an “unbelievable atmosphere” before giving a shout-out ISU Athletic Director Jamie Pollard, who is recuperating from triple bypass surgery that he underwent last Wednesday.

After being asked how Pollard was doing, Hoiberg responded, “Probably not very well. After [watching] that one, he’s probably had another heart attack.”

The Cyclones may dole out more stress-related health issues when they take the court in the semifinals at 8 p.m. on March 13—but Jameel McKay said they’ll do their best to avoid it.

“Hopefully we are done with comebacks and we can just come out strong from now on for the rest of the year,” McKay laughed.