Iowa State guard Mike Taylor got the best of his old roommate and teammate on the first offensive possession of the game when he cut to the basket for a layup past Missouri guard Stefhon Hannah.
But it was the Cyclones’ second-to-last defensive possession that had Taylor and Hannah, former teammates at Chipola Junior College last season, matched up against each other in a key possession in Iowa State’s last-second 66-65 win at Mizzou Arena.
After Taylor made a three-point basket to cut the Missouri lead to three with just under a minute to play, Iowa State elected not to foul Missouri and to instead try to keep the Tigers from scoring. Before Missouri’s possession, Taylor motioned to teammate Dodie Dunson, who had guarded Hannah for most of the game.
“Dodie was doing a great job on him the whole night,” Taylor said. “But when the game was on the line, I told Dodie, ‘You take Keon Lawrence and I’m going to guard Stefhon.’”
Taylor said Iowa State coach Greg McDermott talked to the team all week about how the game was about more than a one-on-one matchup between former teammates. While Taylor agreed, he changed that thought for the 30 seconds he guarded Hannah during the game’s final minute.
Taylor used previous practices with Hannah to his advantage. After Hannah let the shot clock run down to 10 seconds, he made a move toward the basket. Only Taylor made it first. He blocked Hannah’s shot, forcing a jump ball and sealing the defensive stop the Cyclones needed before completing their comeback win. After the play, Taylor threw his hands in the air and pointed his thumbs up, signaling the jump-ball.
“It was kind of familiar,” Taylor said. “Bringing back the old days when we used to play one-on-one at Chipola. I just locked in.”
Despite playing on the same team, Hannah and Taylor didn’t get many opportunities to play against each other at Chipola. Hannah said that because of their competitiveness, coaches put the two guards on the same team most of the time to limit the arguments during practices.
“Me and him used to go at it,” Taylor said. “We’d forget that there’s eight other guys on the floor. It’d just be us two, one-on-one, physical. We almost wanted to fight each other.”
Taylor said the fights were limited to on the basketball court. He and Hannah still talk on a consistent basis throughout the season, including two nights ago and then again during the shootaround before Saturday’s game. After the game, a dejected Hannah, still upset over a referee’s call, didn’t have much to say though.
“He just said good game,” Taylor said with a smile on his face. “...I don’t think there’s any hard feelings. He’s probably mad because they lost. I don’t think he’ll have any hard feelings toward me though.”
Hannah said he enjoyed playing against his former teammate and admitted he was looking forward to Saturday’s game against Iowa State. But at the same time, he said he knows the win gives Taylor bragging rights, at least until Missouri and Iowa State meet again on Feb. 6 in Ames, Iowa.
“It hurts a lot, too,” Hannah said. “I just knew we had it. We had them on their heels like Coach (Mike Anderson) was saying.”
Saturday’s Big 12 Conference opener was their first chance to play against each other. After his win against Hannah, Taylor said he will keep the taunting to a minimum
“We never trash talk,” Taylor said. “We have a whole lot of respect for each other. We’re like basketball brothers.”
Not only did Taylor and Hannah use similar routes to arrive at their respective Big 12 schools, their seasons are comparable as well. Like Hannah at Missouri, Taylor leads his team in both assists and scoring in his first year at Iowa State.