Another important road win for ISU
By PHIL TERRIGNO
LUBBOCK, Texas — It was pointed out to Iowa State coach Steve Prohm that his team won at Kansas earlier this year.
Still, he insisted, this 82-80 overtime win against Texas Tech Monday was the best road win of the season.
“This is the best road win (on Monday), there’s no question about it,” Prohm said. “We win next Friday, that will be the best road win. (Texas Tech) is tough, man. I told the guys, ‘you can talk about the (Kansas) game when we’re 40. Right now, we’re trying to get as many road wins as we possibly can.”
Monte Morris had 23 points and Matt Thomas added 20 for the Cyclones, which were held without a field goal for the final four-plus minutes of overtime but capitalized on making seven of 10 free throws in the extra period.
“I knew we were up two and we were hoping they didn’t take a three,” Morris said of Texas Tech’s final possession, in which it didn’t get a shot off before the final buzzer. “Worst case, it was going to double (overtime). Donovan (Jackson) did a great job of stopping the basketball. And they ran out of time. Good thing we were on the other end of it today.”
Naz Mitrou-Long added 16 points for Iowa State (18-9, 10-5 Big 12), but fouled out along with Deonte Burton. Both were unavailable in overtime.
Texas Tech (17-11, 5-10) was led by 17 points from Niem Stevenson and 16 points apiece from Justin Gray and Zach Smith.
Entering Monday, Texas Tech’s last two losses — at TCU and home against Kansas — were each decided by one point.
Red Raiders coach Chris Beard quickly interjected when a question was posted to Gray about what transpired on Texas Tech’s last possession.
“I got it, Justin — I saw a team that fights their asses off that’s been in a lot of close games,” Beard said. “That represents their school well. Their town. Guys that go to class every day and do the right thing. And a coaching staff that believes in the players. And we find ourselves in another one possession game.”
Jackson hit two free throws to give Iowa State the lead, 79-78, for good with 1:55 left in overtime. Matt Thomas made two more foul shots and Morris added a third to make it 82-78 with 17 seconds to go. Keenan Evans made a layup seven seconds later to pull Texas Tech within two and the Red Raiders fouled Nick Weiler-Babb, who missed both free throws, with 6.7 second remaining. Smith rebounded the second miss but Texas Tech didn’t get off a shot; Devon Thomas hit a 3, but it came just after the buzzer.
“Just a lot of grit and toughness,” Thomas said. “(Mitrou-Long and Burton) fouled out at the end and different guys had to step up late in the game. Nick (Weiler-Babb) and Donovan (Jackson) both did that. Nick had a bunch of rebounds, Donovan had some big plays. Made his free throws.”
At the end of regulation, the Cyclones were called for an over-and-back while bringing the ball up court with the game tied 73-73, which gave the Red Raiders the ball with 1.3 seconds left. On the ensuing inbounds pass, Gray fired a turn-around jumper that hit the rim.
The Cyclones took a 59-51 lead midway through the second half during a stretch when they made six straight shots and the Red Raiders were scoreless for three-plus minutes.
Morris, who entered the game first nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (6.0), drained a 3 in the closing seconds of the first half to tie the game, 39-39.
Iowa State: The Cyclones have pushed themselves into a tie for second-place in the Big 12 entering Monday.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are in a stretch of exceedingly close Big 12 games. It lost in double overtime to West Virginia Saturday and upset then-No. 4 Baylor 84-78 on Feb. 13.
Iowa State hosts Baylor, with which the Cyclones entered Monday tied for second place in the Big 12, Saturday.
Texas Tech, which has not won consecutive games in league play this season, visits Oklahoma State Saturday.
IN THE COACHES WORDS
“In overtime, we were telling our guys to drive the ball,” Beard said. “And we don’t get any free throws. And Iowa State gets 10 free throws in overtime. From where I was sitting, I thought that we drew a couple of fouls. But Iowa State does do a good job of not fouling — it’s a part of their identity.”