Ejim, No. 11 Iowa State hold off Texas Tech
Ames, IA (SportsNetwork.com) - Melvin Ejim put in a go-ahead layup with three minutes remaining, spurring a late Iowa State run that pushed the 11th-ranked Cyclones past the upset-minded Texas Tech Red Raiders, 70-64, on Saturday.
Iowa State (19-5, 7-5 Big 12) blew an 18-point lead in the second half but scored nine of the last 11 points to come away victorious and put Monday's 25- point loss to West Virginia in the rearview mirror.
Ejim scored 13 points through foul trouble, Georges Niang and DeAndre Kane added 17 apiece and Naz Long went for 14 off the bench for the victors.
The Red Raiders, winners of three in a row coming in, lost despite owning a 20-9 advantage at the free throw line and outrebounding the Cyclones 40-30. They did, however, shoot just 37 percent from the field and commit 13 turnovers to Iowa State's seven.
Jaye Crockett carried Texas Tech (13-12, 5-7) with a career-high 23 points to go with 11 rebounds, while Toddrick Gotcher chipped in with 14 points.
"Turnovers hurt us. Iowa State is a team where you can't afford to make mistakes," Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith said.
A close contest early appeared to turn into a blowout when Iowa State built its big cushion during an eight-minute stretch spanning the first and second halves.
Niang's 3-pointer sent the Cyclones into halftime holding a 39-29 lead, and Dustin Hogue put in a layup for a healthy 51-33 advantage with 5 1/2 minutes gone in the second half.
The Red Raiders didn't go quietly, scoring 15 of the next 17 points to pull within five following three Dusty Hannahs free throws.
"When they got back in the game we just lost our minds for a stretch right there," Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. "All of a sudden we started to try and hit home runs and had a couple of bad turnovers and didn't shoot free throws very well."
Ejim scored on consecutive obsessions to put Iowa State in front 57-48, but the Big 12 Player of the Year candidate committed his fourth foul midway through the half and had to sit for an extended period of time.
With Ejim on the bench, Crockett scored eight consecutive points, four coming on free throws and four on offensive putbacks.
Crockett fittingly gave the Red Raiders their first lead of the half went he went unabated to the basket for a layup with 3:22 on the clock, but that lead preceded Iowa State's game-ending run.
Ejim put back an offensive rebound for the go-ahead basket, Matt Thomas made a jumper and Niang scored inside for a 67-62 Cyclones lead with 1 1/2 minutes to play, and although Crockett scored on the ensuing possession, the Red Raiders couldn't get any closer.
The Cyclones have won five of the last six games in the series ... Texas Tech was trying to win four straight conference games for the first time since the 2004-05 season ... Iowa State improved to 12-1 at home.