1. Iowa State’s showdown with No. 6 Mississippi State on Saturday is one of the best non-conference games ever in the history of Hilton Coliseum. The Bulldogs enter Hilton Coliseum as the highest ranked non-conference foe since 1990 when the ISU men’s basketball team took on No. 6 Indiana. Therefore, it’s been over a quarter of a century since Cyclone Nation has gotten this caliber of a home non-conference showdown. On the women’s side, Iowa State faced fifth-ranked Iowa in 1989 – 27 years ago.
Mississippi State finished last season with a 28-8 record and advanced to the Sweet 16, falling to eventual national champion UConn. The Bulldogs have one of the nation’s best players in Victoria Vivians, who was given multiple preseason nods and was recently named to the Naismith Trophy watch list. Vivians is currently averaging 14.4 points and 2.4 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs.
MSU is one of 29 teams in the nation with an unblemished record at 7-0. As a team, Mississippi State is outscoring its opponents by 27.4 points per game.
SEANNA JOHNSON VS. COMPETITION
2. Seanna Johnson always brings her ‘A’ game on the court, but there’s something to be said for her production against some of Iowa State’s top opponents.
Seanna Johnson in 2015-16
Opponent Points Rebounds Assists
Vs. Iowa 22 10 5
Vs. OSU 16 13 2
At Texas 23 6 4
At OSU 22 9 6
Vs. Baylor 22 4 2
Johnson never fails to step it up when the moment calls for it. The proof is in the stats, which is why you won’t want to miss Johnson take on the Bulldogs on Saturday in Hilton Coliseum.
PROTECT THE STREAK
3. Iowa State is looking to protect one of its longest running streaks against the sixth-ranked Bulldogs as it has won 96-straight regular season non-conference games. That’s correct. Iowa State has not lost a non-conference game since 2003. That’s 12-straight years of unblemished home non-conference records.
Iowa State’s last home non-conference loss was against Washington when the Cyclones fell 76-55 on Dec. 21, 2003.
A 96-game streak is tough and you don’t get to 96 without a few scares along the way. Check out a few of the closest calls over the last 12 years.
- Iowa on Dec. 11, 2015 – ISU wins 69-66
- Intrastate rivalries are always tough, but Iowa State’s win over Iowa last season was one for the ages. The Cyclones trailed by as many as 11 in the third quarter. Johnson would take over in the fourth quarter, netting 11 of ISU’s final 18 points to take the lead and the win.
- North Carolina A&T on Dec. 29, 2009 – ISU wins 66-62
- The game was neck-and-neck throughout and with the score 53-52 in favor of the visitors, Alison Lacey netted a 3-point play to give ISU the lead for good. Kelsey Bolte would seal the victory with a pair of free throws to give ISU its final margin, 66-62.
- No. 20 Vanderbilt on Jan. 3, 2009 – ISU wins 55-51
- With 28.9 seconds remaining and a 52-49 lead, Lacey buried a pair of free throws to give the Cyclones the five-point lead. A Vanderbilt layup on the next possession threatened the Cyclones, but Heather Ezell launched the inbounds pass to Lacey, who evaded foul before sealing the victory with a free throw go up 55-51 with 6.9 seconds left.
With all of those close calls came a great deal of “Hilton Magic,” which is why it’s even more important to pack the arena on Saturday when No. 6 Mississippi State comes to town.
4. It’s no secret that Iowa State women’s basketball is home to one of the best fan bases in all of women’s college basketball. The Cyclones have enjoyed a top-10 attendance ranking for the last 17 years. Iowa State has also been in the top-5 for the nine-straight seasons.
Our attendance is something Cyclone Nation takes pride in – and should. Even some of the nation’s best women’s basketball programs finished outside of the top-10 in attendance last season. Here are a few of the nation’s best teams who finished outside the top-10 in attendance from the 2015-16 final rankings:
- 9 Ohio State at 14th in the nation (5,239)
- 5 Maryland at 15th in the nation (5,229)
- 6 Mississippi State at 16th in the nation (5,162)
- 12 Oklahoma at 19th in the nation (4,769)
- 14 Texas at No. 28 in the nation (3,700)
- 8 Florida State at 35th in the nation (3,141)
Saturday’s game against Mississippi State will air on FSN, and it’s another chance to showcase Hilton Coliseum and our amazing fan base to a national audience. Plus, the more fans supporting the Cyclones, the more “Hilton Magic” to spread around!
DEFEATING NO. 3 TEXAS
5. We’re taking a stroll back to 2014-15 for the fifth reason you should some see ISU take on MSU on Saturday. It was Jan. 10, 2015 and the Cyclones had a tall task ahead of them as the nation’s third-best team was set to come to Hilton Coliseum. The Texas Longhorns entered the game undefeated and had already beaten the likes of Stanford, UCLA, Tennessee and Texas A&M. The Cyclones didn’t flinch, and gave Texas one of the best games Hilton Coliseum has seen.
Facing a 17-point second-half deficit, Iowa State began to slowly chip away from the Longhorn lead. With 0:17 on the clock then-senior point guard Nikki Moody drove to the basket and had every intention of taking the shot, but as the Longhorn’s top player Nneka Enemkpali loomed over Moody, she dished it to Johnson who netted the eventual game winner, 59-57. With seconds remaining, Texas had 0:17 remaining to win or tie the game as the Longhorns missed three-straight shots to seal the victory for Iowa State. The game would go down as one of the most electrifying games Hilton Coliseum had seen in recent memory.
There were many who didn’t give the Cyclones much of a chance against Texas, but with a great game plan and a little “Hilton Magic,” Iowa State proved the doubters wrong.
DOWNING NO. 3 BAYLOR
6. Just as Texas had entered Hilton Coliseum earlier in 2014-15 with the No. 3 ranking, Baylor found itself facing the Cyclones on Senior Day. Iowa State played a strong game against the third-ranked Lady Bears, going toe-to-toe with one of the nation’s best.
The game would come down to the wire with Iowa State leading by one point. Baylor’s Niya Johnson drove to the hoop, but her shot didn’t fall and Brynn Williamson secured a tough rebound. Williamson quickly got the ball to Kidd Blaskowsky, who found Johnson in transition for a layup, forcing a BU timeout. On the ensuing possession, Ellis stole the ball from BU’s Alexis Prince and a Moody layup on the other end to put ISU up five, 76-71. The three Cyclone seniors combined for 48 of ISU’s 76 points.
With that being said, we hope you’ll take the time to come cheer us on and ‘Bring the Magic’ on Saturday when we face No. 6 Mississippi State at 1:30 p.m. Don’t forget to wear gold as Saturday serves as ISU’s Gold Rules game.