Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Drake beats Iowa State, 74-65


— Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg hadn't been sleeping well.

The Cyclones were preparing for their first road game of the year at Drake, a game many thought they would win with ease. The source of Hoiberg's restlessness was witnessing sloppy practices throughout the week, all the while sensing that the focus just wasn't there.

Imagine how poorly Hoiberg slept Tuesday night.

Ben Simons scored 24 points and the Bulldogs handed Iowa State its first loss of the season, beating the visiting Cyclones 74-65.

Rayvonte Rice added 18 points for the Bulldogs (2-0), who snapped a two-game losing streak to Iowa State that included a 91-43 defeat in Ames a year ago.

"I was very concerned with our first road game. You've got to be a man to win on the road," Hoiberg said. "You've got to bring it to win anywhere on the road."

The Cyclones didn't bring much of anything to Des Moines, but still had a chance to win late.

Iowa State trailed by as much as 10 with 2:27 left, but Chris Babb's 3-pointer a minute later cut the deficit to 66-63. Simons responded with a floater and a pair of free throws sandwiched around a missed 3 by Babb, pushing the Bulldogs ahead by seven with 22 seconds left.

Royce White recorded his second straight double-double, compiling 21 points and 14 rebounds, to lead Iowa State (1-1).

"I thought our guys did a terrific job of following the game plan and really focusing on the defensive end," Drake coach Mark Phelps said.

Iowa State trailed by single digits to open the second half and it took nearly eight minutes for the Cyclones to grab the lead. Babb's pull-up 3-pointer put Iowa State up 44-43 with 12:26 left, drawing loud cheers from the sizable contingent of Cyclones fans who made the 35-mile trip to Des Moines.

But a game that had lacked flow from both sides suddenly found some, primarily from the Bulldogs.

Rice, who spent considerable time on the bench with three fouls, came back with seven straight points to put the Bulldogs up 56-50. Simons's fourth 3-pointer of the night made it 59-52 with 5:27 left, and Karl Madison's 3-point play and layup put Drake's lead at 64-56 with just 2:43 left.

"I thought when we needed grit and toughness we had it. I thought when we needed poise and composure we had that as well," Phelps said.

Babb and Tyrus McGee each added 10 points for the Cyclones, who shot just 36.8 percent from the field and missed 10 free throws.

Both teams got off to rather sloppy starts, displaying rust accumulated during the offseason.

Drake, picked to finish seventh in the 10-team Missouri Valley Conference, led by as much as 18-13 early. The Cyclones struggled to find their rhythm on offense and contain Simons, who hit three 3-point shots in the first half.

The Bulldogs took a 30-27 lead into the break as Kraidon Woods eluded three Iowa State defenders who failed to box him out and hit a follow-up shot at the buzzer.

Iowa State was coming off an 86-77 win over Lehigh in the opener last weekend, which wasn't nearly as close as the final indicated.

All four Division I transfers the Cyclones are counting on this season; White, Babb, Chris Allen and Anthony Booker; scored in double figures against Lehigh, led by White's 25 points and 11 rebounds in his first college game.

However, even White had his issues against the Bulldogs. He stepped on the line during a crucial inbounds play with 22 seconds left, relinquishing the ball to Drake with his team-high fifth turnover.

Iowa State looked nothing like the team that beat Drake by 48 points a year ago, a game in which Scott Christopherson shot a perfect 11-of-11 from the field and scored 29 points.

Christopherson scored just eight points Tuesday night and saw his streak of games with at least one 3-pointer snapped at 35.

"Scott gives the ball up and a lot of times doesn't get the ball back. I just thought we were trying to get back in the game all at once instead of taking it one possession at a time," Hoiberg said.


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