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December 31, 2013

Iowa State 99, No. Illinois 63

On a night that Cyclone fans cheered with heavy hearts, Iowa State finished off an undefeated non-conference season with a 99-63 New Year's Eve rout of Northern Illinois Tuesday night at Hilton Coliseum.

Earlier in the day, the ISU community got the sad news that iconic coach Johnny Orr had passed away at the age of 86. A pre-game Orr tribute video was shown, a moment of silence observed, and Iowa State's players had the initials JO affixed to their warm-up shooting shirts for the night.

Then the current Cyclone team took over and honored the former ISU coach the best way it knew how, by blowing out the overmatched Huskies (5-6) to move to 12-0 on the season and improve on the school record for consecutive wins to start a season.

13th-ranked Iowa State, which has been dogged by slow starts this season even while winning all of its games, sprinted to a 26-7 lead in the opening 7:19 of the game. Just over nine minutes into the first half, the Cyclones were on pace to hang 140 points on the Hilton Coliseum scoreboard with a 34-16 lead.

Naturally, ISU didn't maintain that pace, but it still led 55-34 at halftime and by as many as 36 points in the second half. The Cyclones' biggest lead was 95-59 with 3:22 to play.

Everybody played for Iowa State and the Cyclones ended up with six scorers in double figures. Melvin Ejim and Naz Long each scored 17 to lead the way with DeAndre Kane scoring 16, Georges Niang 14 and Dustin Hogue and Monte Morris 11 each.

Iowa State had 28 assists on 37 made field goals and only turned the ball over eight times. After shooting almost 62 percent from the floor in the first half, the Cyclones cooled off just a little bit in the second half and ended up just under 59 percent for the game (37-63). ISU made 11 three-point field goals and shot nearly 40 percent from behind the arc.

About the only things that didn't go well for Iowa State in the easy win were free throws and rebounding. The Cyclones made just 14-of-23 free throws and were outrebounded by NIU, 46-36.

Iowa State opens Big 12 play Saturday at Texas Tech.


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