OSU continued their road troubles and Iowa State continued to show it belongs with the big boys in the Big 12.
Wesley Johnson scored a career-high 24 points to lead Iowa State past Oklahoma State 73-66 on Saturday, its ninth win in 11 games. That recent surge has coincided with the return of Johnson, who missed four games with a bone bruise in his foot and spent a few more getting back into rhythm.
Johnson still isn't 100 percent, but try telling that to the Cowboys.
"Wesley Johnson is a great player,'' said Iowa State coach Greg McDermott. "His heart is always in the game and he doesn't like to lose. Wes is going to give it everything he has when he's on the court.''
Freshman Craig Brackins added 15 points and Jiri Hubalek had 13 for the Cyclones (12-6, 2-1 Big 12), who rallied from an early 10-point hole and extended Oklahoma State's road losing streak to 16 games.
"That's a really good win for us. We haven't been in a situation we're we've been down double-digits and found a way to come back.'' McDermott said.
Oklahoma State (10-7, 1-2) clawed within 67-64 on a 3-point play by Obi Muonelo with 53 seconds left, but Terrel Harris missed a 3 and the Cowboys were forced to foul. Jiri Hubalek nailed four straight from the line, and Johnson followed with a steal to cement the victory.
Iowa State improved to 9-0 when scoring at least 70 points. The Cyclones took 23 less shots than Oklahoma State, but they went 19-of-38 from the floor, including 8-of-14 from 3-point range, and 27-of-33 from the line.
Oklahoma State's leading scorer, freshman James Anderson, scored just four points on 1-of-5 shooting from the field. He missed the final 12:26 of the Cowboys' loss to Baylor last Tuesday with an ankle injury and wasn't much of a factor against the Cyclones. He missed an open 3 that would have made it a one-possession game with less than two minutes left.
"We're not that talented where one of our key players can go on the road and have that type of performance,'' Oklahoma State coach Sean Sutton said of Anderson, who was averaging 16.2 points per game entering play. "We have to get James going. I'm not sure his ankle is 100 percent yet.''
Harris and Marcus Dove each scored 17 to lead the Cowboys. Oklahoma State last notched a road victory on Feb. 4, 2006 at Kansas State, but the Cowboys insist that they haven't let their road woes affect them.
"Every game we're on the road we think we can win,'' Muonelo said. "A warrior is not going to say 'I'm going to go out and die on the field.'''
After a sloppy first half, Iowa State opened the second with an 11-3 run to retake the lead. Rahshon Clark hit a 3 to put the Cyclones ahead, and Johnson followed with a 3-point play to make it 46-43. Oklahoma State briefly jumped ahead 56-55 on a Dove jumper, but Brackins answered with a 3, a jumper and a free throw to help put the Cyclones ahead 63-56 with 5:26 left.
"We quit moving the ball in the second half,'' Sutton said. "In the first half we had good flow, but we didn't make shots in the second half.''
Clark and McDermott picked up technical fouls early in the first half, and Oklahoma State seized momentum with a 13-2 run to go up six. Oklahoma State pushed that lead to as much as 33-23, but the Cyclones responded with an 12-4 run to get within 37-35 late in the first half.
Byron Eaton hit a fadeaway 3 as time expired to put the Cowboys ahead 40-35 at the break. Iowa State committed 11 turnovers in the opening half, one more than it had in Wednesday's win over Missouri, but its defense helped keep things close. The Cyclones shut out the Cowboys on nine of 10 possessions during one stretch late in the first half.
"If we don't do that and we're down 10 or 12 going into the locker room, then it's a much different story,'' McDermott said. "It's a much bigger hole, much tougher to dig out of.''
Clark hit a 3-pointer late in the first half to become the 26th player in Iowa State history with more than 1,000 points. Clark scored 10 points and grabbed eight boards in 33 minutes despite nursing a left ankle injury.
Clark's performance hardly stood out in the box score, but it represented yet another gritty effort from the Cyclones' senior leader. He defended Anderson in the first half but switched to Harris in the second, holding him to just four points.
"I'm not going to let a little sprained ankle keep me from playing. We needed this win,'' Clark said.