Iowa State bounces back behind Haliburton
By AARON BEARD
AP Basketball Writer
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — Tyrese Haliburton brought plenty of flair at the helm of Iowa State’s attack, from flashing a hand sign to his ear like he was talking on the phone to another as though he was looking through binoculars after a nifty opencourt pass.
Of course, it was easy for the Cyclones to enjoy Thursday considering they were hitting from outside, playing in a flow and rolling to a huge scoring output.
Haliburton came within an assist of a triple-double while Iowa State posted a record scoring output for the Battle 4 Atlantis by beating Alabama 104-89 on Thursday.
“It’s great to make some shots,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm quipped.
Indeed, the offensive numbers looked great for the Cyclones (4-2), who shook free of their 3-point shooting struggles and fed off the flair of their sophomore point guard.
Haliburton finished with 23 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists while Rasir Bolton added 22 points.
Bolton, a Penn State transfer who was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA, entered the game shooting just 2 of 20 from 3-point range to mirror those troubles.
But he made 5 of 7 on Thursday, while Iowa State made 15 of 29 shots from behind the arc in easily its best totals for made 3s and 3-point percentage this season.
“It feels like I’m back to normal,” Bolton said.
John Petty Jr. had 34 points and six 3-pointers to lead Alabama (2-4), posting the No. 2 point total in the tournament’s nine-year history. But the Crimson Tide did little to keep the Cyclones offense in check.
Alabama was coming off a loss to sixth-ranked North Carolina in Wednesday’s opening round in which the Tar Heels finished with a 60-31 rebounding advantage. This time is was defense and turnovers that irked first-year coach Nate Oats.
“It’s like the Whack-A-Mole game at the fair,” Oats said. “We get the defense figured out against North Carolina, we can’t rebound. Now tonight we take a gigantic step backward with the defense even though we got the rebounding figured out. Our turnovers were back up again.
“We’ve got to start focusing on all the aspects of the game, all the little details. Once we get a group that’s got a concerted effort to play defense for 40 minutes, I think we’ll be all right.”
Alabama: The Crimson Tide just couldn’t keep up with Iowa State shaking loose of its outside shooting funk and getting loose in transition. Alabama shot 51% after halftime but spent nearly all night playing catch-up.
“When they’re hitting like that, you’ve got to make them miss,” Oats said. “You’ve got to get into them a little bit better.”
Iowa State: The 3-point shooting was a welcome sign for Prohm. Iowa State came in shooting just 26.6% from behind the arc, including a 5-for-21 showing in Wednesday’s first-round loss to Michigan that sent the Cyclones to the losers’ bracket. Iowa State shot 52% while putting five players in double figures in this one.
THE CLINCHING RUN
Alabama took a 14-4 lead only to see Iowa State close the half on a 20-4 run to take a 51-36 lead at the break. Then, after the Crimson Tide got within 61-55 with 14¢ minutes left, Haliburton and the Cyclones made their move with a clinching 14-0 run.
Haliburton started it with a 3 while being fouled by James Bolden, while Bolton added his own whistle-drawing 3 a short time later — which had Haliburton basically trotting downcourt after his backpedaling teammate to celebrate.
Petty made 11 of 22 shots and 6 of 9 3s to go with 12 rebounds. That came after the junior had 23 points and seven 3-pointers in the UNC loss.
Iowa State’s 104 points broke the previous record of 102 points by Michigan against Charlotte in November 2015.
Alabama: The Crimson Tide will play in Friday’s seventh-place game against the Seton Hall-Southern Miss loser.
Iowa State: The Cyclones will play in Friday’s fifth-place game against the Seton Hall-Southern Miss winner.