Iowa State missed its first 13 shots Saturday night in the Big 12 Conference tournament championship game against Baylor's 2-3 zone. But with three of the conference's top-10 scorers in the lineup, the dryspell didn't figure to last long.
The Cyclones managed to keep themselves within striking distance in the first half and came storming down the stretch to win their first conference title since 2000 beating the Bears 74-65 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
Iowa State is one of the nation's most prolific offensive teams and the Cyclones proved it scoring 47 points in the second half. They still managed to shoot 50 percent in the game despite those first 13 misses. Deandre Kane led the Cyclones with 17 points and Georges Niang scored 13 with nine rebounds one day after leaving a semifinal win over Kansas with a cut over his right eye. Numerous Iowa State fans were spotted in the stands wearing bandaids above their right eyes in solidarity with Niang.
The difference was made in rebounding. Four of Iowa State's starters grabbed at least seven rebounds and the Cyclones outrebounded the Bears by 10.
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Iowa State could be seeded as high as a No. 2 in the NCAA tournament and will be trying to advance past the round of 32 for the first time since that 2000 season when they won the Big 12 and then fell one win short of the Final Four. The Cyclones have lost to Ohio State and Kentucky in the past two years respectively.
Meanwhile, Baylor lost its third opportunity to win the Big 12 tournament final but will be another dangerous team next week in the NCAA tournament. The Bears fell one half short of completing an amazing comeback from a sour January and early February in which they lost seven of nine games at one point.
Baylor just didn't have the firepower to handle hang with Iowa State when it got hot Saturday. Few teams in the nation do and that could bode well for the Cyclones in the season's final three weeks.
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