I was wrong on this one. I thought that Baylor's pace would be far too much for Iowa State to handle. Turns out Iowa State decided to hit their shots, Baylor didn't, and after the 15:00 mark in the first half, this game was all Cyclones.
I have very few serious gripes with tonight's game. It was honestly one of the best performances I've seen from Iowa State in the last few years. From coaching to playing to execution, this was a real refreshing game to see.
The story of tonight's game was balance. While many expected Craig Brackins to put on a show in front of the 11 NBA scouts in attendance (and he gave us a few highlight reel dunks to get giddy at), we saw solid performances from Diante Garrett, Bryan Petersen, Lucca Staiger, Jamie Vanderbeken and even Sean Haluska - all of whom finished with at least eight points.
To top it all off, Iowa State even made it to the free throw line, converting 15 of 16 attempts. It was a real team effort, and it actually turned into an easy win in the second half. It was actually not as close as the nine point margin.
Wes Eikmeier, Dominique Buckley and Charles Boozer also played well off the bench, well within themselves, and with solid enough defense to spell the starters. Eikmeier, who had been battling injuries the last couple of months, hit his first three in a blue moon to help add to the momentum.
It's been all too rare to see a satisfying performance from Iowa State, but it's refreshing to see a solid game plan meet with solid execution. It gives us just a glimmer of hope for the future. Baylor isn't a great team by any measure, but they certainly had the talent to win tonight. They didn't.