AMES, Iowa – Here are my quick thoughts on Wednesday’s Iowa State-Missouri matchup.
How it happened: Iowa State lost its leading scorer, rebounder and passer five minutes into the first half when Royce White went to the bench with two fouls. But Ricardo Ratliffe went out for Missouri soon after with the same problem.
The undersized squads played small ball for most of the first half. But Iowa State had the momentum.
The Cyclones missed two key opportunities, however, to extend a lead against a top-10 opponent. The No. 9 Tigers went scoreless for a five-minute stretch midway through the first half, but a turnover, a misguided alley-oop and bad shots prevented the Cyclones from seizing the opportunity.
And after Scott Christopherson, who led all scorers with 19 points, nailed a 50-foot 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer – Iowa State was then 8-for-12 from behind the 3-point line and shooting 48 percent from the field – the Cyclones came out of the locker room with mojo. But they started the second half with four missed free throws and a turnover, squandering another chance to build a lead against Missouri.
The Tigers, seeking a victory after a 16-point loss to Kansas State over the weekend, turned it up a notch in the second half. Their perimeter speed was clearly a problem for the Cyclones. After taking a two-point lead two minutes into the second half, ISU never led again.
After Chris Allen (17 points) hit a 3-pointer with 22 seconds on the clock, however, Iowa State was down just 72-69. But Mizzou sank four free throws in the final seconds to seal the victory.
Iowa State’s greatest challenge came at the free throw line. White scored 16 points, but he was also 2-for-8 from the charity stripe. His team was 13-for-25.
Star of the game: Matt Pressey led six Tigers in double figures. He was 5-for-8 from the field and made all four of his free throws.
Most awkward moment: Iowa State fans yelled “Sit down!” as Steve Moore went to the bench with his fifth foul late in the second half. One problem … White was at the line shooting a free throw. He missed it.
Turning point: Allen threw an ill-advised alley-oop to White near the seven-minute mark with Iowa State down 57-55. Missouri scored off the turnover, kicking off a crucial 9-3 run that gave the Tigers breathing room late with a 66-58 edge.
What the win means for Missouri: The victory will help the Tigers forget about the disaster at Kansas State and quickly rebuild their confidence.
What the loss means for Iowa State: It means that the Cyclones aren’t good enough to squander key opportunities to pull away from talented squads. But they lost this game due to some fixable flaws. The Cyclones should still be a factor in the Big 12.
Up next: Missouri will host Texas on Saturday; Iowa State will travel to Kansas the same day.