Milwaukee, Wisc — —Gabe Kalscheur scored 22 points, and 11th-seeded Iowa State (22-12, 7-11 Big 12) surprised Wisconsin (25-8, 15-5 Big Ten) in the Badgers’ backyard, advancing to the Sweet 16 with a 54-49 victory Sunday at Fiserv Forum in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Cyclones advance to their sixth Sweet 16 in program history and first since 2016.
Kalscheur went 10 for 19 from the hardwood. The rest of the Cyclones combined for 10 made field goals. Brockington who finished with 10 points along with freshman Tyrese Hunter led Iowa State to a 59-54 victory over LSU in the first round, Kalscheur was on fire.
“It’s unbelievable,” guard Izaiah Brockington said. “Just to think of where we started in June, to end up here, it’s a blessing.”
It marks the highest seed the Cyclones has beaten in the NCAA Tournament since Iowa State beat No. 3 Cincinnati in 1997. It is just the second time in school history ISU defeated two single-digit seeds in the same year, when Iowa State downed No. 7 Auburn and No. 6 UCLA in 2000.
Kalscheur made a lot of big shots for Iowa State, and he helped the Cyclones put together another quality defensive performance. Also, Hunter finished with three steals, increasing his season total to 68, to break Iowa State’s single-season freshman record.
The Cyclones battled through a 1-of-8 start shooting but only trailed by two at the second media timeout thanks to jumpers from Brockington and Kalscheur. The Badgers used a 6-0 run to go ahead, 16-13, and prompt a Cyclone timeout with 8:47 to play in the half.
Iowa State took a 27-26 lead into the break.
“Really never liked Wisconsin, to be honest,” Kalscheur said. “I mean I have family from there, but I’m a Minnesota-raised man.”
Kalscheur scored the Cyclones’ first seven points of the second half as Iowa State raced out to an eight-point advantage (36-28), helped by a Badger scoring drought. Wisconsin was held to only one field goal in the first 10 minutes of the final frame but crepted back to within four (38-34) with 9:04 to go into the contest.
Aliaz Kunc drained a trey to make it a 10-point game, ISU’s largest lead of the contest, with just over four minutes left in the game, but a 5-0 Wisconsin spurt trimmed the margin to five (50-45) only a minute later. The Badgers pulled within five again on Davis’ two foul shots with 3:09 to go, but the rally fizzled from there. Hunter made two free throws and Kalscheur added another one from the line to help the Cyclones hold on.
“They played a really good pressure defense. They did a really good job of taking away passing lanes,” said Davis, who was 4 for 16 from the field. “I just think that we just straight up missed shots and didn’t share the ball the way we were supposed to.”
Iowa State will play 10th-seeded Miami — a 79-61 winner against No. 2 seed Auburn — in the Midwest Region semifinals on Friday in Chicago.
Wisconsin was leading the nation with an average of 8.4 turnovers per game coming into the day. It was the lowest scoring game for the school since a 53-46 loss to Virginia on Nov. 23, 2018.
“Shot the ball uncharacteristically poor today,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “Turned the ball over. We’re No. 1 in the country in fewest turnovers. Today we were not.”
Iowa State: The Cyclones’ swarming defense is keeping the team in games while it struggles on offense, and that makes the Big 12 team a threat in the next round. It shot just 34.5% from the field.
Wisconsin: Hepburn’s injury put the Badgers in a bad spot, but the team just never got into a rhythm offensively.
Iowa State will play No. 10 Miami in the Sweet 16 Friday, March 25 in Chicago.