The magic that Little Rock found during their comeback win over Purdue in the First Round must have dissipated into the thin Denver air. The Trojans couldn't duplicate the feat against Iowa State, and found themselves on the losing end of a blow out.
Despite owning one of the more oppressive defenses in the country, Little Rock couldn't slow down the Cyclones, losing 78-61. Iowa State will move on to face the winner of Virginia and Butler on March 25, in Chicago.
Josh Hagins did come alive for a brief moment in the second half, knocking down two straight 3-pointers, and cutting the lead to 13. That put the Trojans exactly into the spot where they were when the pixie dust came down to ignite the run against the Boilermakers.
But a three by Matt Thomas followed by one by Abdel Nader helped push the lead back to 17 and ended the threat.
Against an average offense, you would expect the Trojans to only give up 0.95 points per possession. But Iowa State showed that they were not average. Even though the Cyclones played at one of the slowest paces this season, they still averaged 1.23 points per possession. That kind of production made them unstoppable.
That was especially true given that the Cyclones committed only six turnovers, as compared to 18 by Purdue during the First Round game. Combined with the only 10 fouls by Iowa State, Little Rock just failed at taking away the ball, or earning any points with the clock stopped.
Georges Niang led the way with 28 points and six rebounds, while Thomas added 16 points, including four 3-pointers in the win.
For the Trojans, Roger Woods had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Hagins finished with just eight points, as he struggled to get free against Monte Morris and the Cyclones to find his shot.
For all of the success that Iowa State had against Little Rock, that should take nothing away from the Trojans, who finish out the season at 30-5. Hagins and Woods will be gone next year, but they return a core that could continue to build something in Little Rock.
That is provided that they can find a way to keep Chris Beard in town to coach this team. He will be more than one of the hottest names this offseason, and you can tell he feels a special tie to Little Rock. But opportunities to make a big leap, especially after a season like this, don't come around very often.