KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Iowa State (5-0, 0-0 Big 12) rallied from a 15-point first half deficit to down VCU (3-2, 0-0 A10) Thanksgiving afternoon, shooting 60 percent from the floor in the second stanza to earn its fifth win of the season.
Iowa State has now won the opening round of a Thanksgiving tournament for the third straight season, starting 5-0 for the third straight season. For the first time this season, Iowa State faced adversity, trailing for the majority of the game as the Rams held the advantage for over 35 minutes of game time.
The Cyclone rally was spearheaded by their starting backcourt, as guards Tamin Lipsey and Keshon Gilbert had themselves an afternoon, each dropping 22 points in a comeback ISU effort. Gilbert matched a career-high with 10 rebounds, earning his first career double-double. Lipsey surpassed his personal best of 21 points, dropping 22 huge ones – 14 of which came in the second half. Gilbert was able to control the game throughout the second period, getting to the foul line at will as the UNLV transfer went 12-15 from the charity stripe. Robert Jones chipped in 12 points with five rebounds and was a consistent presence for the Cyclones throughout the afternoon, going 6-7 from the field.
Iowa State saw its offensive success from the first four games vanish early, as the Cyclones shot just 22.6 percent from the floor in the first half. VCU opened up a game-high 15-point lead at the 1:35 mark of the first stanza. The Cyclones closed the half strong, as a pair of triples from Lipsey cut the Ram lead to just six at the break. VCU was shooting 55 percent from the field at the break and 50 percent from downtown, powering the nine-point halftime lead. VCU held tough at the beginning of the second half, holding off ISU attempts at cutting the lead. It wasn’t until about the halfway point of the second period until the Cyclones were able to cut the game to one possession.
An emphatic Tre King slam at the 10:51 mark seemed to be the turning point for Iowa State, but the Rams had the counter, going on another run and pushing the VCU lead back to 10 points with six minutes remaining. Gilbert would go on to rattle off five straight for the Cyclones, halving the VCU lead with 4:24 left on the clock. Lipsey had some massive plays down the stretch, ultimately cutting the lead to one with 1:45 left before earning an illegal screen call on VCU to get the ball back. On the following Cyclone possession, Lipsey cashed a floater to put Iowa State in the lead for the first time since the 12-minute mark of the first half, 65-64. ISU would go on to ice the game, holding strong on defense and converting free throws on the other end, earning a four-point victory.
Iowa State will be back in action Friday, Nov. 24, facing Virginia Tech in the ESPN Events Invitational Semifinals. Tomorrow’s action is set for 4:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN2.