Iowa State basketball, Izaiah Brockington swarm Xavier in convincing non-conference upset
BROOKLYN, New York — Izaiah Brockington caught fire in the second half, scoring 23 of his career-high 30, to lead Iowa State to a 82-70 upset of Xavier on Wednesday at the Barclays Center.
The Cyclones’ leading scorer got plenty of help from freshman Tyrese Hunter, who poured in 19 points of his own against the Musketeers (No. 25 in the AP poll; receiving votes in the USA TODAY Coaches Poll). Iowa State, with its pregame KenPom rating of 111, remains undefeated this season, improving to 5-0. It will meet either Memphis or Virginia Tech in the winner’s bracket game of the NIT Season Tip-Off multi-team event at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
"We’re still a new group learning each other," Iowa State coach T.J. Otzelberger said. "Hopefully that’s a step forward for us. We’ve just got to continue to keep our head down and work. Because when this group does that, we can do some good things."
Here are takeaways from the Cyclones’ big win.
Izaiah Brockington, Tyrese Hunter provide 1-2 punch
Brockington’s big night shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The former Penn State and St. Bonaventure player has a proven track record of success, scoring a season-high 24 against Virginia Tech in 2020-21.
But, then, neither should Hunter’s. The 37th-ranked recruit in the 2021 class put up 19 against Alabama State earlier this season and is the team’s second-leading scorer through five games.
Against Xavier, the Brockington-Hunter tandem was lethal. In addition to all the points, they also combined to grab 10 rebounds, dish out five assists and come up with five steals.
Brockington, who went 3-for-4 on his 3-pointers, said he could tell he was hot throughout the game.
"Yeah, that last 3 definitely proved it," he said. "When it bounced off the back of the rim and went in, I was like, ‘God just wanted me to score a lot today.’ So, I was happy.”
Living by the 3
This week’s win over Grambling appears to have been foreshadowing for the Cyclones’ improved 3-point shooting prowess.
Iowa State was dismal from deep through three games, highlighted by a 0.5% game last week against Alabama State. The team rebounded, though, torching Grambling State to the tune of 52% from beyond the arc. That heat carried over to Wednesday, when the Cyclones connected on 50% of its treys (10 for 20).
Brockington and Hunter combined for seven of them.
While Iowa State was putting on an efficiency clinic, Xavier was in another boat altogether. The Cyclones held the Musketeers to a season-worst 3-of-21 from long range.
One of the few box-score bright spots for Xavier was the production it got from its reserves.
The Musketeers’ bench nearly outscored the starting lineup, putting up 34. It was a far contrast from Iowa State’s bench, which managed just 7 points.
A halftime rally?
Iowa State, which led by as much as nine in the first half, saw that lead dwindle as halftime neared.
Xavier used a 9 for 12 spurt (and a 1-of-6 span from the Cyclones) to claw back into it and carry a 39-38 lead into intermission.
As hot as Xavier got late in the first half, Iowa State answered it early in the second. Thanks largely to three baskets from Brockington, the Cyclones kicked the second 20 minutes off shooting 7-of-9 from the field.