Finally, Cyclones and McDermott catch a break

A group of reporters were sitting inside Hilton Coliseum the other night asking which game, if any, could be considered the signature win in Greg McDermott’s four seasons as Iowa State’s head coach.

The list of candidates was not terribly impressive. It’s better now.

McDermott has a no-brainer after Saturday’s 85-82 victory at No. 5 Kansas State, the Cyclones’ first win over a ranked opponent since Feb. 5, 2006, a span of 21 games.

It was the coach’s first win over a ranked opponent in 20 tries, including nine this season, most of any team in the Big 12 Conference.

Here was McDermott’s post-game address to his players inside the locker room, courtesy of cyclones.com

ISU (15-16, 4-12) started fast, led 42-33 at halftime and were tough and colllected in the closing minutes of regulation and overtime — which were played without star forward Craig Brackins, who had fouled out with 2 1/2 minutes to play.

K-State tried to make it a numbers game. Brackins and LaRon Dendy each fouled out, while Justin Hamilton and Scott Christopherson made it through despite each having four fouls with 6 minutes still to play in regulation.

Diante Garrett scored five of his eigth in the extra session.

Finally, the bounce of the ball went the Cyclones’ way. After Tuesday’s disheartening overtime loss to Missouri at the buzzer, they needed a pick me up.

“My hat’s off to Greg McDermott,” K-State coach Frank Martin told reporters after his Wildcats likely dropped out of contention for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. “As disappointed as I am in our guys, I’m extremely happy for him, happy for those kids. With all the close losses they’ve had this year, [McDermott] continues to get those kids to play as hard as he does. I’m real happy for Greg.”

Now it’s on to Kansas City, Mo., and the Big 12 Tournament at the Sprint Center.

ISU faces Texas (23-8, 9-7), which has lost eight of its 14 games after a 17-0 start propelled them to No. 1 in the rankings two days before coming to Hilton Coliseum on Jan. 13.

The Longhorns won that game 90-83, quickly erasing ISU’s halftime lead and pulling away late.

Here’s the schedule for the Big 12 Tournament (Cyclone fans will have to stay up late to watch):

Wednesday’s opening-round games

11:30 a.m. — No. 8 Colorado vs. No. 9 Texas Tech

2 p.m. — No. 5 Missouri vs. No. 12 Nebraska

6 p.m. — No. 7 Oklahoma State vs. No. 10 Oklahoma

8:30 p.m. — No. 6 Texas vs. No. 11 Iowa State

Thursday’s quarterfinals

11:30 a.m. — No. 1 Kansas vs. Colorado-Texas Tech winner

2 p.m. — No. 4 Texas A&M vs. Missouri-Nebraska winner

6 p.m. — No. 2 Kansas State vs. Oklahoma-Oklahoma St. winner

8:30 p.m. — No. 3 Baylor vs. Texas-Iowa State winner

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