March 12, 2000
By CRAIG HORST
AP Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Iowa State has carried the "no respect" theme about as far as it can go.
Picked in most preseason polls to finish no higher than seventh in the Big 12, the seventh-ranked Cyclones completed a season sweep by adding the Big 12 tournament championship to its regular season title.
"We have to play to our potential to get the respect we deserve," Marcus Fizer said after scoring 22 points as the Cyclones beat Oklahoma 70-58 Sunday in the championship game.
"If you don't respect us, we go out and beat you," Fizer said.
"I think we're two handfuls," Iowa State guard Michael Nurse, causing coach Larry Eustachy to wince.
"I think they're just a little excited," said Eustachy, who spent time at his postgame news conference to complain about a Sunday morning newspaper article that was all about Oklahoma. "We've been fighting all year to get respect. We're a tough team."
The Cyclones (29-4) will not sneak up on anybody now in the NCAA tournament. Iowa State has 14 more wins than last season, the biggest turnaround in school history.
Iowa State easily beat the only Big 12 team it had not defeated while setting a school record for victories and winning their first regular season conference championship in 55 years.
Three surges from midway through the first half carried the Cyclones past No. 15 Oklahoma (26-6), which had used a stirring second half Saturday to stop Texas in the semifinals and advance to the championship game.
This time, the rally was not there. The Sooners, trailing 35-25 at halftime, got the first basket of the second half, but Iowa State immediately went on an 8-0 run to lead 46-27 with 13:11 to play.
"They got it to 20, but we got it back to 10," Sooners coach Kelvin Sampson said. "If we could have cut it to seven or eight, we might have had a chance. That's where you've got to get stops - that's where extra energy, extra effort, extra tenacity comes in. It was a 12-point game, but it wasn't a close game."
Iowa State, which was made the top seed in the tournament for the first time in school history, defeated Oklahoma State in the semifinals. The Cyclones joined the Iowa State women's team as tournament champions after the women earlier had beat Texas, making for a joyous weekend for the thousands of Iowa State fans who annually make the trip to Kansas City for the tournament.
It was the first time men's and women's teams from the same school each won their tournaments.
Nurse had 14 points and Jamaal Tinsley added 13 for the Cyclones, who made 21 of 25 free throws.
Eduardo Najera, who had led the second half rally against Texas and finished with 31 points Saturday, led Oklahoma with 19 points.
"I was not as aggressive," Najera said. "I did a poor job of leading the team. I take the blame for that."
Iowa State went on a 9-2 run midway through the first half to open a 17-6 lead before Hollis Price hit a 3-pointer and another basket to get the Sooners within 17-11.
But Iowa State reeled off six straight points, including a dunk by Fizer when he got behind the Oklahoma defense on a fast break. The Cyclones were up 30-13 on a couple of spinning layups by Tinsley and a basket by Nurse before the Sooners rallied at the end of the half.
Najera had a couple of baskets and Oklahoma scored the last eight points of the half to get within 35-25.
Najera finished with nine points in a half in which Oklahoma shot just 30 percent. The Sooners shot 34 percent for the game.
It has been widely speculated that Fizer, a junior, will apply for the NBA draft. Fans chanted "One more year" as the championship trophy was presented to the Cyclones and Fizer was named the tournament's most valuable player.