Iowa State blitzes Houston in 2nd half to win title

Iowa State Secures Victory with Second-Half Surge Against Houston to Claim Title

In Kansas City, Missouri, Keshon Gilbert led Iowa State to a stunning victory in the Big 12 Tournament. He scored 16 points, helping the seventh-ranked Cyclones overpower No. 1 Houston right at the start of the second half on Saturday night. This strong performance enabled them to secure a 69-41 win and claim their sixth championship in as many title game appearances.

Milan Momcilovic contributed 18 points, and Hason Ward added 13 points for the Cyclones, who now boast a record of 27-7. Their journey to the championship saw them defeat five different teams, including Oklahoma, which was once coached by the current Cougars coach, Kelvin Sampson.

For Sampson, this loss might have felt more bitter than any before. Iowa State, leading 30-23 at halftime, kicked off the second half with an 18-3 run, turning the game into a rout seldom seen by Sampson’s teams. This performance thrilled the numerous Cyclones fans who fill Kansas City with their red and yellow colors every March, giving them ample reason to cheer loudly.

It appears the coach leading them doesn’t make a difference. T.J. Otzelberger has become the fourth coach to lead Iowa State to a tournament victory.

Houston’s Jamal Shead managed to score 10 points, despite shooting 3-for-17. The team, as a whole, struggled, especially in the second half where they were outscored 39-18. L.J. Cryer and Emanuel Sharp were limited to seven and five points, respectively, as the Cougars had a tough time finding their rhythm, shooting 4 of 22 from the 3-point line and 15 of 56 overall.

Iowa State excelled by outplaying Houston at their own game, especially in the first half. They remained calm even when they fell behind early on. Their excellent ball movement inside led to easy layups, which in turn opened up opportunities for Momcilovic and other Cyclones to hit 3-pointers.

On defense, the Cyclones forced Shead into difficult shots, and by halftime, the Big 12 player of the year had only made 2 of 11 shots. His performance did not improve in the second half.

Houston’s J’Wan Roberts struggled as well, especially after injuring his right leg in the semifinal against Texas Tech. He started but only played 13 minutes in the first half and did not return for the second.

Even if Roberts had been able to play, it’s doubtful he could have changed the outcome. Iowa State’s momentum was unstoppable, highlighted by a 10-point run at the beginning of the second half. A 3-pointer by Momcilovic extended their lead to 48-23 with 12:40 remaining.

As the game slipped away, Houston resorted to desperate attempts, going 9 and a half minutes without scoring a field goal.

Looking ahead, Iowa State is likely to be a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, with a good chance of playing the opening weekend in Omaha, Nebraska. This location is conveniently close to their campus in Ames, Iowa, being only about a 2 and a half-hour drive away.

Despite the loss, Houston is almost guaranteed a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The question now is whether the selection committee will place the Cougars in the same region as Iowa State, potentially setting up a rematch.