AMES - Craig Brackins once again showcased his high-powered offensive game, scoring 22 points and grabbing eight boards in Iowa State's 67-49 win over Mercer Wednesday afternoon. Brackins, who is the reigning Big 12 Player of the Week after pouring in a career-high 38 points vs. Houston on Sunday, is averaging 26.5 points in his last four games.
The win improves ISU's record to 9-4, as the Cyclones held the Bears to a season-opponent-low 49 points. ISU is now 22-0 in the McDermott era when keeping its opponent to 60 points or below.
"It's getting better," ISU head coach Greg McDermott said. "We are still learning how to play with each other and learning what our expectations are offensively. You can practice for a month and have an idea. As a coaching staff, when you have a young team, you have to try and figure out what will work and will not work."
There were six lead changes and one tie through the first eight minutes of the first half. The Cyclones then took control by taking a seven-point lead (23-16) with 8:45 remaining in the first period behind a 10-1 run. Bryan Petersen hit two treys in the Cyclone flurry.
ISU increased its lead to 27-18 with 6:24 left before half after Brackins hit a baseline jumper and Lucca Staiger scored on a drive down the lane. ISU reached its biggest lead of the opening period at 13 points (37-24) when Brackins hit a jumper from the top of the key. ISU eventually went into the break with a 37-26 lead.
Early on, the Bears played a sagging defense on ISU's Brackins, giving room to ISU's long-range shooters. The Cyclones made them pay for it, hitting five 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes of action. Brackins did get on track, scoring nine of his 11 first-half points in the final nine minutes of the opening period.
It was a 10-point Cyclone lead (43-33) with 15:29 left in the game until ISU broke it open. Alex Thompson scored three buckets and Brackins added a pair of baskets, one on a monster alley-oop dunk off a perfect feed from Petersen, as the Cyclones went on a 10-2 run to take a 53-35 lead with 11:58 left in the game.
Staiger and Petersen were also in double figures for the Cyclones, scoring 11 points each. The pair also drained three treys apiece. Staiger has made 24 3-pointers in his last seven games.
ISU held the Bears to 34.6 percent shooting, the 11th time in 13 games where the Cyclones have held their opponent to 40 percent or below shooting from the field. ISU is now 9-0 this season when shooting better than its opponent.
ISU is back in action on Saturday, playing host to SIU-Edwardsville at 7 p.m.