The Drive with Heather Burnside and Sean Roberts

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Watson's career night leads Cyclones to 58-45 victory over Oklahoma

Pittsburgh v Iowa State

Photo: Jacob Kupferman / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Ames, Iowa – Revenge is best served in front of 14,000 screaming cardinal and gold fans. On Wednesday night the No. 8 Iowa State Cyclones (22-6, 11-4) had much to respond to. An uncharacteristic lethargic win over West Virginia last weekend left many unsettled ahead of a rematch of their January 6 loss to the Oklahoma Sooners (19-9, 7-8). Crawling through an embarrassing first half and foul trouble the Cyclones got the last laugh in their final meeting against the Sooners as conference foes winning 58-45.

The first half can be summarized in one word…brutal. The battle many expected in the first half was overshadowed by inconsistent whistles and poor offense which plagued both Iowa State and Oklahoma. A combined 18 fouls were given between the two squads. Contributing to four of those fouls were Demarion Watson and Robert Jones who each had to sit for most of the half. Not only could either defense get into a rhythm, but the offenses looked like they were hitting the court for the first time of the season.

In their first meeting this season Iowa State and Oklahoma shot over 39% from the field going into the half. Tonight, they combined for a horrific 14-60 and 2-17 from beyond the arc. Throughout the 20 minutes, the Cyclones were faced with two scoring droughts that spanned over three minutes each. Even the Tre King put-back dunks failed to fall.

Down 20-16 with a little over three minutes left, the Cyclones were attempting to crawl out of an over 6:30-minute drought. The consistent Curtis Jones snapped the drought with a floater in the middle of the lane igniting a spark and energy that was so desperately missing from the unusually quiet Hilton Coliseum. Iowa State began to turn into their No.8 selves with intense trap defense leading to their entertaining fast breaks.

“Iowa State does what they do they are so physical defensively,” Oklahoma head coach Porter Moser said.

Iowa State headed into the locker room with a 9-0 run and despite shooting 20% they went into the break with a 25-20 lead.

Offense wakes up with help from unlikely hero in 2nd half 

With foul trouble lingering into the start of the second half with Jones picking up his third foul 47 seconds in, TJ Otzelberger was once again forced to look for his depth to take on the challenge. Usually, the next man up has been Hason Ward, Curtis Jones, or even Jackson Paveletze at times. Tonight the unlikely hero of the game was Watson.

“Last game Jackson comes in and gives a spark off the bench, this game it is Damarion,” Otzelberger said. “We are fortunate this time of the year depth is important and having guys that can come in and have that type of impact is huge.”

Playing with two fouls in the tightest called conference game of the year Watson was going to need to play near perfect to stay in the game. And he was perfect. After finishing the first half with only one rebound, Waston took over the second half when the typical start dimmed. Finishing with a career-high 15 points (shattering his previous high of 7 points) the sophomore unleashed with great confidence a perfect 7-7 from the field and even showed some range with a deep corner three that ultimately put Oklahoma away.

“We did not have a lot of energy in the first half, so I thought it was my job to just bring energy to the group and do what I do best,” Watson said. “Offensively [I kept] it simple, cutting and grabbing offensive rebounds and then just play my game and just stay confident in what I do.”

Waston epitomized the sang coaches say all the time “Move without the ball and your teammates will find you.” Oklahoma could not find an answer for Watson as he guided a Cyclone squad to shoot 50% from the field in the second half. His consistent defensive presence guarding the glass and continuing effort of crashing the glass (9 total rebounds with four offensive boards) left the Cyclone fans on their feet.

“It was a surreal moment,” Watson said about the standing ovation. “It embodies the community of Ames.”

Iowa State desperately needed an offensive performance like this from one of their role players with their key stars being dimed for the game. Tamin Lipsey, Keshon Gilbert, Robert Jones, Tre King, and Milan Momcilovic combined for 7-38 shooting and 26 points. The only thing consistent in this roller coaster performance was another solid night off the bench for Curtis Jones who for the 12th straight game finished with 10+ points (11 points) on the night.

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