March 15, 2012
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP)- Chris Allen led four Cyclones in double figures with 20 points and Iowa State scored its last 14 at the free-throw line to beat the University of Connecticut men's basketball team 77-64 on Thursday night in the Second Round of the 2012 NCAA Championship before a crowd of 22,131 at the KFC Yum! Center. Connecticut ends the season with a record of 20-14 while Iowa State is 23-10 and faces Kentucky in the third round on Saturday.
"I'm surprised as anybody, clearly," Calhoun said. "I imagine our players are, too."
For the eighth-seeded Cyclones, meanwhile, it's their biggest victory in a season of them, having knocked off Kansas and Baylor during Big 12 play.
After leading by as much as 22 in the first half, Iowa State withstood a UConn rally in the second half. Freshman Ryan Boatright (Aurora, Ill.) went on a one-man tear, making three straight baskets to pull Connecticut within 58-52 with 8:24 to play. But the Huskies (20-14) couldn't get any closer, missing their next four shots and going scoreless for more than five-and-a-half minutes.
"This game was a disappointment; this season was not a disappointment to me," Calhoun said. "I knew this team could be really good, but we just didn't reach that level."
Sophomore Shabazz Napier (Roxbury, Mass.) led the Huskies with 22, and sophomore Jeremy Lamb (Norcross, Ga.)had 19. But Connecticut could never get into a rhythm and had no answer for the quicker, more aggressive Cyclones.
"It's very disappointing to have to end the season this way," Napier said.
Iowa State, meanwhile, got a big layup from Bubu Palo and an even bigger bucket from Allen.
Allen has played more NCAA tournament games than any player in the 68-team field after making back-to-back Final Fours with Michigan State in 2009 and 2010, and his experience showed. He chased down his miss on a three-pointer from the corner and went up and under the basket, scoring to put Iowa State back in front 63-52 with 4:15 to play.
UConn could never make another run, and all the Cyclones had to do was convert their free throws. Though Calhoun talked about having a second chance in the tournament, Iowa State put a quick end to that.
"You saw the game," Calhoun said, "we played very poorly. We deserved to lose the game."