Cyclones lose at home to Bearcats
By LUKE MEREDITH
AP Sports Writer
AMES — Iowa State is playing defense better than it has in years.
The Cyclones’ offense has been uncharacteristically sluggish at times though, putting their school-record streak in the Top 25 in jeopardy.
Jacob Evans III made two free throws with 20 seconds left in overtime and Cincinnati upset No. 19 Iowa State 55-54 on Thursday night, the Cyclones’ second straight loss.
Kyle Washington had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Evans had 11 points for the Bearcats (6-1), who also snapped Iowa State’s 37-game non-conference home winning streak.
Cincinnati outrebounded the smaller Cyclones 46-34. It shot just 3 of 21 from 3-point range and 35.5 percent overall, but its defense stifled Iowa State — which just 11 days ago scored a program-best 130 points.
“To win it when you go 3 for 21 from 3, on the road against a great team like that, and they still win the game? It says a lot about the character of our team,” Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said.
Gary Clark and Kevin Johnson also scored 11 points each for the Bearcats.
Monte Morris had 15 points for the Cyclones (5-2) and Matt Thomas scored 13.
Iowa State’s Naz Mitrou-Long, who has hit a number of game-winning 3s in his career, had one rim out at the regulation buzzer. He did not score.
“I thought they really competed. Showed a lot of toughness, a lot of grit,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said. “They were going to try to control the tempo. The biggest key is just we weren’t able to get enough good, quality shots on the offensive end. That’s something I’ve got to look at and do better with.”
The Cyclones have dropped their last two by a total of three points after a 5-0 start. But Iowa State had its worst offensive output since 2013 on Thursday, scoring its fewest points in an overtime game in 11 years.
“They were just tougher than us,” said Darrell Bowie, who had 11 points with seven rebounds for Iowa State.
THE BIG PICTURE
Cincinnati: The Bearcats were active in disrupting Iowa State’s often-lethal transition offense and kept the Cyclones (5 of 21 on 3s) from getting good looks beyond the arc. This win will look really good on their postseason resume.
Iowa State: The Cyclones might have issues with bigger teams like Cincinnati all season. Iowa State thrives behind a deep and talented backcourt, but the Bearcats were often able to make it a half-court game and disrupt the Cyclones’ ball movement — although the absence of promising freshman forward Solomon Young didn’t help.
Iowa State has been ranked in 60 consecutive polls, third-best nationally behind Kansas and Arizona. That could end on Monday — though losing on a neutral floor to Gonzaga by two last week and to one to the tough-minded Bearcats certainly doesn’t mean the Cyclones are in trouble quite yet.
It was the key to the game, because Cincinnati had it and Iowa State didn’t. “If you move the ball, and you move people around, you’re a much harder team to block out,” Cronin said when asked about his team’s dominance on the offensive glass. The Cyclones had just five assists on 22 baskets — an extremely low number for a team with Morris, an AP preseason All-America. forced a missed jumper ahead of Evans’ game-winner, and all Iowa State could get on its final possession was a deep, off-balance 3-pointer by Mitrou-Long.
Cincinnati hosts Bowling Green on Sunday.
Iowa State hosts Nebraska-Omaha on Monday, a tune-up for Thursday’s road game at struggling Iowa.