Sunday, February 27, 2005

Devastating Loss--Iowa State Took Huskers 'Lightly'


That’s exactly how I would characterize Iowa State’s 76-69 loss today to Nebraska.

“We didn’t come out with as much enthusiasm as we should have,” forward Rahshon Clark said on the postgame radio show after the Cyclones lost a game they all but had to win before a sellout crowd at Hilton Coliseum.

“We just took them lightly. They [Nebraska] just outplayed us.”

However, Clark—who scored 11 points and had three rebounds--gave Iowa State’s fans something to hang their hats on.

“We’re not going to lose another game,” he promised.

I felt Iowa State needed to not only win today’s game, but also Wednesday’s regular-season home finale against Missouri, Saturday’s game at Colorado and at least two games in the Big 12 Conference postseason tournament to make it into the NCAA’s 65-team field.

However, the Cyclones’ important Ratings Percentage Index took a big-time hit with today’s defeat. Nebraska came into the game with only a 12-12 overall record and a 5-8 record in the Big 12.

Iowa State, losing for the second straight time after reeling off seven consecutive victories, is now 15-10 overall and 7-7 in the conference. The Cyclones are tied for sixth and seventh places in the league with Texas A&M, a team that beat them soundly, 75-59, last week.

“Our backs are against the wall again,” center Jared Homan told the radio audience. “It’s us against the world. But when we were in that position earlier in the season, we [fought] our way back. Hopefully, we’ll bounce back and do the same.

“The guys have an uphill battle again. We’ve dug ourselves a hole. We’ve got to come out fighting and give it everything we have.”

Homan, who scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, plays the final regular-season home game of his Iowa State career Wednesday night.

“It’s senior night and there will be a lot of emotion,” he said. “We don’t want to have our last game here be a loss.”

Not so fast.

After what happened today, there’s still a chance that Iowa State will play again at Hilton Coliseum this season.

The trouble is, if there’s another game it would be in the NIT—a place the Cyclones don’t want to be.

Nebraska had 23 offensive rebounds and out-rebounded Iowa State by a whopping 51-37 margin. The Cyclones were 1-for-11 on three-point field goal tries and guard Curtis Stinson, who was averaging 17.6 points, was held to nine while going 3-for-12 from the field.

“The big difference in the game was rebounding,” Iowa State coach Wayne Morgan said on his postgame radio show. “

Morgan said Stinson’s injured left hand “really hurts. It’s courageous of Curtis to even finish the season before having surgery on the hand. The doctor told me that every time the hand is hit it’s same as if somebody drove a nail through it.”