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COLLEGE BASKETBALL NCAA TOURNAMENT

Iowa State Wins With a Twist

Midwest: Cyclones defeat Cincinnati, 67-66, as surprise zone defense keeps Fortson in check; backup center Edwards scores decisive basket.

March 16, 1997|TIM KAWAKAMI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Iowa State pulled down No. 3-seeded Cincinnati here Saturday, literally.

In a nerve-rattling final two minutes of play, the sixth-seeded Cyclones nudged, zoned, rolled onto and, at the end, knocked Cincinnati out of the NCAA tournament Saturday.

With the help of a controversial traveling call with 34.1 seconds left and an ensuing basket by backup center Klay Edwards, Iowa State eked out a 67-66 victory to advance to the Midwest Regional semifinals against UCLA on Thursday in San Antonio.

The traveling call came on a scramble after an Iowa State miss, when Cincinnati guard Darnell Burton grabbed the ball, and fell to the ground when Cyclone forward Kenny Pratt rolled onto his leg.

"He fell on my leg," Burton said. "The ref said he thought I fell on purpose, that's why he didn't call it."

Edwards, in the game after center Kelvin Cato fouled out on what appeared to be a clean block with 1:05 left, got the inbounds pass and buried a short jumper--only his second basket of the game.

The Bearcats (26-8), one of the preseason favorites to win the national championship, got thrown a curveball from the Cyclones, who almost always play a straight-up man-to-man defense. Instead, Iowa State Coach Tim Floyd went to a weird zone, keeping one man always in front of Cincinnati's leading scorer, forward Danny Fortson, and one behind him.

Fortson was limited to 16 points and only three rebounds.

"Fortson, that is a real man down there," said Pratt. "A beast on the block."

With Iowa State (22-8) giving up wide-open shots to prevent Fortson from touching the ball, Bobby Brannen had a career-high 14 points, and took a team-high 10 shots. But only Burton joined Fortson and Brannen in double figures.

Cincinnati guard Damon Flint had two chances to win the game, but missed a short jumper with 4.3 seconds left, and then a desperate 25-foot heave at the buzzer.

"We just tried to limit Fortson's touches," Floyd said.

Meanwhile, with Cato under wraps after a 29-point outing in the first round, the Cyclones got a gigantic performance out of blue-collar forward Pratt, who scored a game-high 21 points--including a 23-foot three-point basket with the shot clock expiring late in the game.

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