NEW YORK — Probably the least celebrated of the four teams participating in this year’s NIT Season Tip-off, the Iowa State Cyclones are leaving the tournament doing the most celebrating, officially staking their claim as, possibly, the surprise team in college basketball in the new season.
Gabe Kalscheur scored 30 points and grabbed eight rebounds as Iowa State had an easy time in dismissing No. 9 Memphis 78-59 in the championship game of the NIT Season Tip-off at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Kalscheur, after scoring 12 points in the Cyclones’ victory over No. 25 Xavier on Wednesday, won the MVP of the tournament as his five steals also helped a defensive effort that held the Tigers to just 36 percent shooting (19-for-53) in the contest.
One of the traditional powers in college basketball in the Midwest, the Cyclones are coming off one of their worst seasons in program history, a 2-22 campaign that prompted the school to relieve Steve Prohm of his duties as head coach and hire T.J. Otzelberger, a former Iowa State assistant who most recently was the head coach at UNLV. From two wins all of last season, the Cyclones now have two wins over AP Top 25 teams in a span of 72 hours.
“Our guys should have the confidence that they can beat good teams,” Otzelberger said after the game. “And if they continue to work at the same level that we’ve worked, that there could be some more of those type of victories in our future.”
Iowa State led by five, 32-27, at halftime before Kalscheur scored the first six points of the second, including a four-point play that game the Cyclones a 38-27 advantage. Memphis never got within six points for the rest of the game as Iowa State ballooned its lead to as much as 25. Trstian Enaruna and Aljaz Kunc each scored 11 points for Iowa State.
The heralded freshmen of Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren were held in check by the Cyclones’ defense, as Bates led the Tigers with only 12 points. Duren was saddled by foul trouble all game and only scored two points while committing five turnovers and four fouls.
“This loss cut deep,” Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway said. “They thought we were just going to walk out on the floor and beat Iowa State. And it just doesn’t work that way.”
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Friday evening’s contest, with photos taken by ALOST photographer Danny Suriel. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 33 pictures in total.