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Iowa State caps a wonderful weekend with 75-64 title-game victory over Boise State

Conway, S.C., November 19, 2017 – Sometimes you just need to make a trip to the beach to clear your head and get back on track.

That certainly seemed to work for the Iowa State Cyclones this past week. After averaging only 57.5 points per game in starting the season 0-2, the Cyclones came to the Grand Strand and put up an average of 86.3 points per game in winning three times in four days and capturing the championship of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off at Myrtle Beach.

Iowa State capped their title run with a 75-64 victory over Boise State in Sunday night’s championship game. Donovan Jackson scored 26 points – giving him a PRTO record of 76 for the tournament – and Nick Weiler-Babb added 10 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds for the Cyclones.

Despite Jackson’s record-setting scoring performance, Weiler-Babb was named the tournament MVP on the strength of his impressive all-around game. He nearly averaged a triple-double for the tournament, finishing with averages of 17.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game.

It has been a big change for a team that lost at home to Milwaukee 74-56 on Monday before leaving for Myrtle Beach.

“We were in a bad spot. We came here facing a lot of adversity, a lot of questions,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said. “But we talked to these guys about what they’re going to do. What are they going to change to get better? And we came here and took a step forward.”

Iowa State (3-2) appeared to take control in the first half, after Boise State leading scorer Chandler Hutchison hit his head on the court and eventually had to sit out the rest of the game. In Hutchison’s absence, the Cyclones roared to a 39-21 halftime lead. Or as Boise senior forward Christian Sengfelder said, “They came out and punched us in the face.”

But the Broncos (4-1) regrouped at halftime and slowly began to chip away at the lead, pulling to within 64-60 with still 2:34 to play. Sengfelder led the resurgence, finishing with 20 points (14 in the second half) on 8-of-16 shooting.

“We were a little shell-shocked trying to figure things out when Chandler went down,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “We had a choice. We could feel sorry for ourselves, or we could step up and go compete and keep fighting. We’re a team that can make big runs, so we knew we weren’t out of it.”

Just when it looked like Boise might complete the comeback, Jackson shut the door by scoring the Cyclones’ final 13 points, including a big 3-pointer with 1:17 left that made the score 71-64.

When asked about his record-setting shooting performance in the tournament, Jackson deflected to Weiler-Babb, saying, “I have a great point guard. He finds me and tells me to make open shots.”

In fact, much of the credit for Iowa State’s turnaround this week can be traced to Prohm’s decision to move Weilber-Babb to point guard after the 0-2 start. The switch has transformed the team so much that Rice said, “The team that I saw on film (from last week) is not the same team we saw here.”

Prohm tends to agree, though he repeatedly stressed that all the Cyclones did in Myrtle Beach was “take a step.”

“We have to go home and coach them harder, and they have to do better in all areas for us to continue to grow,” Prohm said. “The good teams in college basketball continue to get better from November to March, and that’s what we have to do. We have to understand that this is just one weekend.”

That might be true. But what a weekend it was for the Iowa State Cyclones.