Hilton filled with heartbreak

Wednesday, January 7, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:04 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 14, 2008

Hilton Coliseum, Iowa State’s basketball arena in Ames, Iowa, gives Missouri coach Quin Snyder nightmares.

Since Snyder took over in 1999-2000, the Tigers are 4-5 against the Cyclones, but none of his squads has won at Hilton.

Snyder’s video reel from games at Hilton provides enough tape for a series of horror flicks. When the Tigers meet the Cyclones at 7 tonight at Hilton, Snyder hopes his squad can end the curse.

“We’ve had it handed to us up there,” Snyder said. “We’re well aware of what a tough environment it is and what a good team we’ll be playing.”

The terrors started in 2000 when Jamaal Tinsley, former Iowa State point guard, posted a triple-double in the Cyclones’ 86-81 win against the Tigers.

Last season, the Cyclones capped Missouri’s Big 12 Conference road season with a 71-55 win in Ames. Rickey Paulding and Travon Bryant anchored the Tigers’ offense in the teams’ most recent meeting, scoring 18 points each.

Like Snyder, Paulding, Bryant and fellow seniors Arthur Johnson and Josh Kroenke remember how often they have been disappointed at Hilton. Four familiar faces in the Cyclones’ starting lineup won’t let them forget.

Iowa State returns seniors Jake Sullivan, Tim Barnes, Marcus Jefferson and Jackson Vroman. They combined for 62 points in their most recent matchup with the Tigers.

Despite the seasoned Cyclones roster, this is not the same team.

Iowa State forced out former coach Larry Eustachy after photos surfaced of the coach drinking at a party in Columbia after the Cyclones’ Jan. 22 game at Hearnes Center. After one year as an Iowa State assistant, Wayne Morgan was promoted.

One of Morgan’s priorities was recruiting, and Iowa State gained a nationally-regarded class of newcomers, including freshmen Curtis Stinson and Will Blalock.

On Dec. 29, Stinson was named Big 12 Rookie of the Week, and Blalock earned the honors on Dec. 22.

Assistant coach Bob Sundvold said that Morgan is accelerating the team’s offense for this talented backcourt. Snyder has noticed Morgan’s renovation in the team’s play.

“He’s done a terrific job,” Snyder said. “You can tell, particularly with the addition of Stinson and their guard play, they’re pushing the ball more and playing incredibly hard. That’s the biggest compliment you can give him.”

A team tied for ninth in the league in 2003, the Cyclones (7-2) started this season in unstoppable fashion. After winning their first seven games, the Cyclones suffered their first losses on the road to Virginia and San Diego State.

Few guessed an undefeated Morgan’s crew would start so well, but the Tigers’ 5-4 start was equally inconceivable.

After dropping three of its past four, Snyder’s squad wants to start over with a clean slate in conference play.

“There’s a tendency to think the sky is falling,” Snyder said. “As a team, sometimes that’s good, to feel the urgency.

“I hope we can just continue to improve and go up and win at Iowa State. We’re at 0-0 right now.”

A 76-56 win against Iowa on Saturday put the Tigers on the right track, but they need someone to take responsibility for lapses of substandard play.

Johnson said every player in the locker room is a perfect candidate. When the Tigers meet the Cyclones tonight, Johnson said the Tigers can win if they show ownership of the game.

“Let the guys in the room, the players, step up and make what we want to do ours and not have it come from the coaches,” Johnson said. “Just go out there and do what we know we’re supposed to do.”

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