AMES, Iowa — One team played like it wanted the postseason more than anything Wednesday night. But it wasn’t the Tigers.
Iowa State destroyed Missouri at Hilton Coliseum in a 67-49 rout and made a statement to the selection committee that would be hard not to hear.
The Tigers’ downfall started in the first half but things spiraled out of control in the second. Missouri’s 49 points was its lowest output this season.
The Cyclones (16-10, 8-7 Big 12 Conference) came out blazing in the second half and in less than five minutes had turned a 10-point lead into 16. Then late in the period, ISU started scoring at will.
The Tigers (14-15, 6-9 Big 12) could do nothing to slow the onslaught. The Cyclones were scoring alley-oops with ease and giving the crowd at Hilton Coliseum a good show.
The run ended when ISU’s Will Blalock got by Jason Horton for a reverse dunk. Blalock, a 6-foot guard, proceeded to do a pull-up on the rim and was rewarded with a technical foul.
Missouri coach Quin Snyder said the problem was turnovers. The Tigers had 22 and Iowa State capitalized, scoring 30 points off of them.
“It’s going to be hard to win if you turn the ball over that much,” Snyder said.
Snyder said the mistakes Missouri made were basic and there were times when his players just threw the ball to the other team.
“We started the game throwing the ball across our body,” Snyder said. “We’re not using fakes. There are some players that are talented enough to get away with that. That’s not where we are right now.”
The second half was bad for the Tigers, but the problems started early in the first.
The Cyclones bullied the Tigers in the first half. Iowa State’s zone defense and full-court press proved too much to handle for Missouri, who fell behind 29-19.
The constant pressure from ISU resulted in 12 Missouri turnovers. They weren’t all the result of bad passes.
Twice Horton was forced out of bounds. Each time he looked to the closest referee for some kind of call. Twice he received no consolation. Still, he placed no blame on the referees.
“I don’t think we were as tough, mentally,” Horton said. “We weren’t getting to the right spots and being strong with the ball.”
Jason Conley didn’t fare much better. With just a few minutes left in the period, Conley drove down the court on a fast break.
A Cyclone made a lunge at the ball and ran into Conley, sending him to the floor. The ball flew loose, ISU recovered and turned the possession into a basket by Jared Homan.
Conley said it wasn’t the Cyclones that caused Missouri’s problems.
“I don’t think it was them," Conley said. “It was us too. I think they are a good defensive team but it was mainly us.”
The physicality was not all bad news for the Tigers. It forced them to become innovative and the players started making crisp passes. About midway through the first half, Horton charged down the floor on a fast break. Two Iowa State players moved to cut him off so he threaded the ball through traffic to Thomas Gardner. Gardner then completed the possession with an easy layup.
Even though the loss was demoralizing, Jimmy McKinney said the Tigers aren’t going to throw away their season especially because their final regular season game is against Kansas. If the Tigers lose to Kansas, they could only be eligible for postseason play if they make the Big 12 championship game.
“We got no choice,” McKinney said, “We got to win the Kansas game. We’ve got to go to the Big 12 tournament and pull off some victories.
“We’re not going to pack it up. We’re just going to keep fighting.”