Blown away: No. 7 Iowa State blitzes No. 1 Houston in second half, wins Big 12 tourney title 69-41

Iowa State Stuns Top-Ranked Houston with Second-Half Surge to Clinch Big 12 Championship, 69-41

In Kansas City, Missouri, Keshon Gilbert shone brightly during the Big 12 Tournament, scoring 16 points for Iowa State. This performance helped the seventh-ranked Cyclones overpower the top-ranked Houston right at the start of the second half on Saturday night. Their dynamic play led them to a commanding 69-41 victory, marking their sixth championship win in as many title game appearances.

Milan Momcilovic contributed significantly with 18 points, while Hason Ward added 13 points to the Cyclones’ tally. With a season record of 27-7, the Cyclones have triumphed over five different teams to clinch the trophy. Among these victories was a win against Oklahoma, a team once coached by Kelvin Sampson, who is currently with the Cougars.

For Sampson, this loss might have felt more disappointing than any setback he experienced back in 2000. Iowa State, leading 30-23 at halftime, escalated their advantage into a significant lead with an 18-3 run at the beginning of the second half. This performance thrilled the numerous Cyclones fans, who annually fill Kansas City with waves of red and yellow in March, giving them ample reason to celebrate.

The success of Iowa State in the tournament seems independent of their coaching leadership. T.J. Otzelberger has become the fourth coach to lead the team to victory in this tournament. Houston, on the other hand, struggled in the second half, with Jamal Shead scoring 10 points on a 3-for-17 shooting performance. The team, which ended with a 30-4 season record, was outscored 39-18 in the second half. L.J. Cryer and Emanuel Sharp were limited to seven and five points, respectively, as the Cougars struggled, making only 4 of 22 attempts from the 3-point line and 15 of 56 from the field.

Iowa State demonstrated superior gameplay by outperforming Houston at their own game. The Cyclones maintained their composure, even when facing early challenges. Their strategic interior ball movement led to easy layups, challenging the Cougars’ guards who were focused on defending the perimeter. This strategy allowed Momcilovic and other Iowa State players to start hitting 3-pointers effectively.

On defense, the Cyclones pressured Shead into difficult shots, significantly impacting his performance. The Big 12 player of the year and defensive player of the year only managed 2 for 11 in the first half, with no improvement in the second.

Houston’s J’Wan Roberts also faced challenges after injuring his right leg in the semifinal against Texas Tech. Although he started the game and played for 13 minutes in the first half, he did not return for the second. However, given the Cyclones’ momentum, his presence might not have altered the outcome. The Cyclones’ early 10 points in the second half, highlighted by a 3-pointer from Momcilovic, expanded their lead significantly. As the game progressed, the Cougars resorted to desperate attempts, failing to score a field goal for over 9 and a half minutes.

Looking ahead, Iowa State is poised to secure a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, potentially playing in Omaha, Nebraska, for the opening weekend. This location is conveniently close to their campus in Ames, Iowa. Houston, despite the loss, is likely to receive a No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament. The question now is whether the selection committee will place the Cougars in the same region as Iowa State, setting the stage for a possible rematch.