Gritty Iowa State makes case for NCAA tournament bid by beating No. 13 Oklahoma State

With a nice mix of returning players and transfers in the early going this season, there was reason to believe Iowa State would make a second consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament.

But the Cyclones hadn't quite closed the sale entering their game with No. 13 Oklahoma State.

Will Clyburn, one of those heralded transfers, scored 20 points and Iowa State knocked off the Cowboys 87-76 adding to its case for an at-large bid later this month assuming it doesn't win the Big 12 Conference tournament.

Coach Fred Hoiberg's team doesn't have a sterling resume, but there aren't a lot of hurdles for the selection committee to get over either. Wednesday's victory was Iowa State's second over a ranked team. They also took Kansas, a potential No. 1 seed, to overtime in a game the conference admitted was negatively impacted against Iowa State by poor officiating. It is the only home loss the Cyclones have had all season (16-1).

The Cyclones are now at 20-10 overall and 10-7 in the Big 12. Fifth-place in the conference earns Big 12 teams a tournament invite in most seasons and there really is no obvious reason to think this year will be any different. Plus, not that it's a criteria the selection committee will consider, but the Cyclones are high scoring and fun to watch, shooting 3-pointers by the truckload.

It would help ISU stay off the bubble if it wins its final regular season game Saturday on the road at West Virginia. If it could win two games in the Big 12 tournament next week it would match last season's win total at 23.

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