Two visiting teams ended their nonconference schedule with a contest at a neutral site, Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The game was interesting, hard fought, competitive and concluded with a startling upset as the South Carolina Gamecocks (9-3) edged the nationally #9 ranked Cyclones of Iowa State (10-2), 64-60.
The overwhelming majority of the small crowd of only a few thousand fans strongly supported the Cyclones. Iowa State was appearing in the metropolitan area for the second time in 10 months. They lost a thriller to the 2014 national champion Connecticut Huskies in last year’s Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA National Tournament at Madison Square Garden.
To the surprise of their enthusiastic rooters, the Cyclones fell behind in the early minutes of the game. Excellent shooting, control of the boards and a smothering defense gave the Gamecocks a double digit advantage after six minutes of action. South Carolina sunk six of its first nine baskets while holding Iowa State to only two of seven. The Gamecocks grabbed eight rebounds before the Cyclones had even one.
Fred Hoberg, the coach of Iowa State, described the game’s beginning, “The first 12 minutes” determined the outcome. “We talked about throwing the first punch, but we didn’t. It was 8-0 before we could even blink.”
Coach Frank Martin of South Carolina explained his team’s start, “We came out of the gate and we guarded. We take pride in our defense. The Oklahoma State and Clemson games [one-sided victories over good teams in December] gave us confidence that our defense was solid.”
South Carolina reached its highest advantage, 32-20 with 6:23 remaining in the half, but Iowa State, on a 15-4 scoring run, closed the deficit to one point, 36-35, when the half ended.
The Gamecocks retained their lead, although in single digits, until a layup by Georges Niang gave the Cyclones its first lead of the contest with 8:23 left to play. The lead changed hands four times in the next three minutes. A free throw by Sindarius Thornwell of South Carolina broke the only tie of the game at 5:30 to provide the Gamecocks with the final lead of the contest.
The Gamecocks are now 2-0 at Barclays. They defeated Manhattan on the same court two years ago.
The Cyclones had an aberrational lack of success at the free throw line. They missed 14 of 33 attempts (57.4%), far below their average this season. The team was first in the Big 12 and 30th nationally with a success rate of 74% in free throw shooting. Hoberg expressed his thoughts on the matter, “It’s contagious the domino effect.”
The effective South Carolina defense also kept the Iowa state shooters far below their season average of 50.6%. They only netted 20 of 57 shots for a 35.1% average.
The two leading scorers for Iowa State, Dustin Hogue and Jameel McKay (15 points each), were teammates at Indian Hills Community College for two years. They each netted four field goals, seven free throws and hauled down six rebounds.
Hogue, a native of Yonkers, had a rare and happy opportunity to again play where family, friends and neighbors had the opportunity to come and cheer for him and his teammates.
McKay, who transferred from Marquette, was only in his third game after nearly two years of inaction. He is averaging 11 points per game since his start with the Cyclones.
Duane Notice was the leading scorer for the victors with 15 points. He explained why he scored 11 of the 15 in the first half, “Our defense created a lot of points for me in the first half.”
Freshman Shamiek Sheppard, a Brooklyn native, played his second college game before friends and family in his place of birth. The win overjoyed him.
Both coaches expressed hope that the tightly contested game on the road will benefit their teams during the conference schedule that will soo