Cyclones shoots high percentage in second half to beat slumping Tigers.
By Chuck Schoffner ~ The Associated Press
AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State's victory over No. 17 Missouri almost was enough to make a grown man cry.
And Iowa State coach Larry Eustachy admitted that just about happened after his team beat Missouri 71-67 Wednesday night behind Tyray Pearson's career-high 28 points.
"I almost came to tears after the game because I was so happy for this team," Eustachy said. "They needed a bone, if you will, and they got one. This is a good reward for them."
Jake Sullivan added 20 points for Iowa State (9-7, 1-1 Big 12), which went ahead to stay with an 11-0 run midway through the second half, then made one key shot after another down the stretch to keep Missouri at bay.
The Cyclones shot 63 percent in the second half, made a season-high 10 steals and for just the second time this season, had more assists (12) than turnovers (7). It was their 19th straight conference victory at home, tying a Big 12 record.
"It showed our true team character," Pearson said. "There wasn't one individual out there who won it by himself. I think it was a team effort, offensively and defensively."
Kareem Rush broke out of a shooting slump to lead Missouri (11-4, 1-1) with 29 points, but the Tigers couldn't handle Pearson inside or stop Sullivan and Shane Power from driving. Pearson was 13-of-23 from the field in topping his previous best of 25 points.
Missouri got nothing in the second half from Clarence Gilbert, who did not score after the 4:41 mark in the first half and finished with 11 points -- six below his average.
The Tigers lost for the fourth time in six games after a 9-0 start that had lifted them to No. 2 nationally, and coach Quin Snyder was left wondering about his team's chemistry -- or lack thereof.
"I've been worried about our team for about two months and it's time they worried about themselves," Snyder said. "I don't think we always play hard or together. I'm surprised we don't have more pride."
Missouri made 10 3-pointers, but Iowa State outscored the Tigers 46-30 in the lane, mostly because of Pearson's turnaround shots and Sullivan's pull-up jumpers.
"They were real tight on the ball," Sullivan said. "They want to force turnovers and get you playing in a hectic way. We were smart about getting to the hoop. We've actually been doing a pretty good job of it all year. Tonight, it was just a little bit more open because they put so much pressure on."
Missouri was ahead 36-35 after Rush hit a turnaround shot in the lane for the eighth lead change in the game. Power, who finished with 15 points, scored on a drive and Iowa State started to pull away.
Sullivan and Power hit consecutive 3-pointers and Marcus Jefferson capped the run with a three-point play after stealing the ball from Rush, putting Iowa State ahead 46-36. That proved to be enough of a cushion to hold off the Tigers.
Six times Missouri pulled within three points and Iowa State answered with a basket or free throws on each occasion.
"They just didn't miss," Gilbert said. "I believe we started out the second half not playing tough enough defense and got them going. They got their confidence and it just carried on until the game was over."
When Rickey Paulding's 3-pointer cut the lead to 62-59, Sullivan hit a jumper while being closely guarded by Wesley Stokes. Paulding drove for a basket to pull Missouri to 64-61 and Pearson answered this time, hitting a jumper from the left block for a 66-61 lead with 1:18 remaining.
After Rush missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Power made four straight free throws and Pearson hit one, enough to offset two late 3s by Rush, who was 12-of-20 after shooting 33 percent over the five previous games.
"Give credit to Iowa State. I thought they played us physical on their defensive end and we allowed them to do that," Snyder said. "I didn't see one guy on our team -- Clarence does it at times, responds to physical play -- but our other guys don't."