Iowa State holds off Tulsa 80-78 in Puerto Rico Tip-Off
By AARON BEARD
Nov. 18, 2017
CONWAY, S.C. (AP) — Nick Weiler-Babb has thrived for two games at the point for Iowa State. It's no coincidence the Cyclones are winning now, too.
Weiler-Babb had 20 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists Friday to help Iowa State hold off Tulsa 80-78 and reach the championship game of the relocated Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
The Cyclones (2-2) blew most of a 16-point lead in the final 10 minutes but did just enough down the stretch to hang on for a second win in as many days. And it has coincided with coach Steve Prohm tweaking things to give Weiler-Babb more work at the point.
Weiler-Babb had 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in Thursday's win against Appalachian State, then played 40 minutes while flirting with the first triple-double in Tip-Off history Friday.
"I just have to say guys have been buying into their roles," Weiler-Babb said, "and coach putting me at the point just opened up a lot of opportunities for Donovan (Jackson) on fast breaks and Lindell (Wigginton) to run the wings.
"We're just getting a lot of easy buckets out of transition that we didn't really do the first two games."
It certainly has unlocked Jackson, who had a bumpy opening two games but has two straight 20-plus scoring outputs here while seeing more time on the wing.
"We talked all summer that these guys have to be great for us every night," Prohm said. "And they've played like that the last two nights down here."
Tulsa (2-2) got as close as 72-71 on Sterling Taplin's layup with 1:12 left, but Jakolby Long answered with a banked-in straightaway basket with 48.6 seconds left to keep Iowa State in front. Jackson closed the game out by hitting four straight free throws in the final 18 seconds.
Junior Etou had 25 points while DaQuan Jeffries added 23 for Tulsa, which shot 65 percent after halftime.
"They made some big shots, banked a shot there late in the game at the end of the shot clock, (Jackson) made some huge shots," Tulsa coach Frank Haith said. "But I can't fault our guys' effort and how we competed."
Iowa State: That's two wins in two days for the Cyclones, who arrived shooting 39 percent and had scored 74 points in both of their losses to Missouri and Milwaukee. They've hit 104 and now 80 in two games in Conway — which is hosting the tournament due to hurricane damage in Puerto Rico.
"It's great," Prohm said, "but just like you can't live in those two losses, you can't live in these two wins, either. They have to understand that. They have to handle this the right way."
Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane trailed 64-48 with 10:03 left before running off a 14-point run to get back in it. Tulsa ultimately dug itself too big of a hole, but showed some resiliency to get back in it just as Iowa State looked headed to a decisive victory.
"We just have to play a full 40 minutes with the same effort we put into the second half," Jeffries said.
Jackson had scored 10 points on 4-for-20 shooting in the first two games, but scored 26 points against Appalachian State and 24 more against Tulsa. He's made eight 3-pointers in the two games.
LONG'S BIG NIGHT
Long, a sophomore, appeared in just nine games as a freshman and had 18 career points coming into this one. But he broke out with four 3-pointers and 15 points in the opening half, finishing with 17 points.
Iowa State: The Cyclones will play Boise State in Sunday's championship game.
Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane will play Illinois State in Sunday's third-place game.
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