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Iowa State Cyclones Beat Baylor Bears 72-57

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What a game! What a shooting performance! This was a game that I thought Iowa State had a good shot at winning, and it was a lot of fun to see this team scrap, claw, and put on the performance they did today. It feels good to see the team win, because it leads to the continuation of playing the way the coaches are telling them. Often times, if a team does everything they are being asked to do, but do not have success, they start to doubt what they are being told to do and do not listen. Getting a big win at home against a pretty solid basketball team will hopefully lead to continued efforts such as tonight as the Cyclones continue on in the Big 12.

What was the key in the game? What did Iowa State do exactly to win?

First and foremost, three point shooting was huge. I thought the team would take 25-30 three pointers, and they ended up shooting 25 threes. Not so crazy. What was crazy was that the team made 14 of the 25 threes. Christopherson's elbow looked good and went 5 of 8 from beyond the arc. I got to Hilton about an hour early and tweeted that Christopherson's shot was looking good, and it was awesome to see him look more like his old self, at least for a day. Jamie Vanderbeken was huge from beyond the arc, going 7 of 8 from three. With Jamie, Baylor did not really step out to guard him.

I do not know if it was scouting, or just bad execution, but you do not let a career 42% three point shooter shoot so many wide open shots. I haven't charted it or anything, but it seemed to me that of Iowa State's 25 three point attempts, probably 20 or so were ones that the shooter was wide open. What was interesting was the fact that Baylor playing some man-to-man for considerable minutes because of Iowa State really lighting it up from there. Baylor never plays man-to-man. 

Another big key in this game was from the bench, believe it or not. Calvin Godfrey scored 9 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in 18 minutes of play. More importantly, he did a good job banging down low and making Baylor's forwards uncomfortable down there. He's just such a fun player to watch energy-wise, and it that energy is contagious. The refs let the players play quite a bit in this one as well, so unlike KU (where he got called for a couple ticky-tack fouls), he was able to be physical and aggressive, but not get punished for it as much. On the flip-side, Baylor played three bench players, but got 0 points and only 3 rebounds for that group. Which leads to me my last big key as to why Iowa State won the game.

The refs let the players play in this one. Only 23 fouls were called in the entire game. Despite Iowa State being at an athletic disadvantage in this game, their attitude and hard-nosed nature on defense really had an effect on Baylor. Baylor typically shoots about 48% from the field, but shot only 41% tonight. For being such a good rebounding team, I had expected to be a more physical team defensively. This Iowa State team plays tough, and in games that the refs are going to let the guys play, it helps them a ton.

All in all, a pretty good day if you're a Cyclone fan. Iowa State got their first conference win under the Hoiberg era, and hopefully has built some confidence for this upcoming week. The Cyclones travel to Oklahoma State on Wednesday night and then head out to Columbia the following Saturday to face Mizzou. A couple tough environments, but having played better than expected in each of their Big 12 games, capped with a big win at home is the perfect way to start off a tough road stretch. Hopefully the team can keep the momentum going.