Ames, Iowa When will the stinging stop for the Iowa State men's basketball team?
It all set up so perfectly for the Cyclones on Wednesday against No. 2 Kansas University.
They led, 54-52, with 7:46 to play. They had a rowdy crowd of 13,009 fans on their side. Understandably, ISU thought the Hilton Coliseum magic would come back and bite KU for the second straight season. The Jayhawks never have had tremendous luck here.
Didn't matter, as it turned out. The KU seniors slaughtered the Cyclones with an 8-0 run after briefly losing the lead, and that wrapped up Wednesday's game quite definitively.
Kansas 71, Iowa State 66.
"They're really senior-oriented, so they're really smart," ISU guard Will Blalock said of KU. "They tried to slow the tempo of the game down. Even when we pressed, they'd break the press and slow the game down."
ISU (8-5) is 0-2 in the Big 12 Conference.
Wednesday, ISU lost another late lead. Saturday against Missouri, the Cyclones were up by 12 with 4:35 to play, but somehow lost, 62-59, to kick off their league schedule.
In the long run, ISU coach Wayne Morgan feels his team will be better after facing the recent adversity. But it doesn't make the stinging stop.
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"I don't think we're far away," Morgan said. "If we can get a little better and concentrate a little more, we can be a great team, too. But we don't have a big margin of error."
Blalock and Curtis Stinson, as expected, led ISU with strong guard play Wednesday, combining for 35 points -- 21 in the second half. Stinson had ISU's last five field goals, in fact, but KU's solid free-throw shooting down the stretch doomed ISU in the end.
If the Cyclones are looking for an upcoming cupcake to stop the pain, they'd better look hard. Their next game is against sixth-ranked Oklahoma State on Saturday in Stillwater, Okla. The Cowboys are 12-1 and were picked to win the Big 12 in preseason polls.
It's a brutal start to the Big 12 season, and the rare loss on their home court made the Cyclones all too aware of the conference's power up top.
"They're a really good team," Blalock said. "It's hard to make them make mistakes. They know what to do."