DES MOINES, Iowa — Most teams that fall behind by 18 points to a team as methodical as Northern Iowa are doomed to defeat.
Not Iowa State. The 17th-ranked Cyclones needed just seven minutes to rally from a 49-31 deficit against the Panthers on Saturday.
Northern Iowa overcame Iowa State's 23-2 run and forced overtime, but the Cyclones scored 20 points in the extra five minutes and won going away, 91-82, on a neutral floor in Des Moines.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery, who was in the same gym waiting to play Drake later that night, couldn't help but take notice of Iowa State's explosiveness with a road game against the Cyclones (7-0) set for Friday.
"Any time a team comes back, you say, 'Wow. That was impressive.' To me it was the way they did it. When you're down 18 with less than 16 to go, that is often panic time. They didn't panic at all," McCaffery said. They shared the ball. They defended. They got one stop, one bucket at a time."
If there's any team in the country that can get buckets when they need them, it's the Cyclones.
Iowa State entered Tuesday ranked third in the nation in scoring at 91.7 points a game. The Cyclones are shooting 49.3 percent from the field, 37.4 percent from 3-point range and are averaging over 10 3s a game.
Iowa State is also second nationally in assists per game at 19.9 and sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.76), which isn't terribly surprising given the addition of senior point guard DeAndre Kane and his 15.4 points, 8 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game.
But the biggest revelation among coach Fred Hoiberg's new crop of transfers is forward Dustin Hogue.
Hogue, named Tuesday as the Oscar Robertson national player of the week, has far surpassed expectations coming out of Indian Hills Community College in Iowa. He's shooting 59.3 percent, tops among Cyclones regulars, and has 10.4 rebounds a game.
While Hogue has given Iowa State's offense an unexpected boost, he's also been a standout interior defender for a team that doesn't play too often with a true center.
"He does a little of everything for us. The No. 1 thing he brings is just an element of toughness to help get stops late in games and control the glass," Hoiberg said. "He's so strong on the interior and he can play multiple positions, and he's knocking down his open shots right now, and he just has that warrior mentality. I love everything about the kid."
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Hogue is also a prime example of how much offense Iowa State generates from its defense.
The Cyclones lead the nation with 36 defensive rebounds a game — 4.4 more than second-place BYU. That helps them get out in transition for layups and 3-pointers.
Hoiberg said he's been pleased with how often Iowa State has forced teams to settle for low-percentage mid-range jumpers. The Cyclones have also been adept at grabbing those misses and putting quick pressure on opponents at the other end of the floor.
Four of Iowa State's starters are averaging at least four defensive boards per outing, led by Hogue's 56 in seven games.
"Our guys have really bought into what we're trying to do," Hoiberg said. "I think we're defending the 3 well, and I think we're doing a decent job of limiting teams in the paint. And again, when teams have a size advantage on you, that's what you have to do."