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NCAA COLLEGE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

Supporting Cast Gives Iowa State a Big Lift

Midwest Regional: Cyclones show they have more than just Fizer in 79-60 victory over Auburn.

March 19, 2000|From Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Iowa State's All-American forward Marcus Fizer was angry. Not about his dismal first-half performance, but about a brief conversation with a fan on his way to the Metrodome.

Fizer, who made only one basket in the first half, led a second-half surge Saturday that carried No. 2-seeded Iowa State to a 79-60 victory over No. 7 Auburn in the Midwest Regional.

A woman recognized Fizer from a magazine article and photo and approached him.

According to Fizer, she asked, "So, you're what all the whoop and hollering is about?

"And I said, 'No, it's about our team,' " Fizer recounted, furrowing his brow even at the recollection.

Auburn certainly saw Fizer as Iowa State's main attraction and it hounded him relentlessly until his supporting cast of Jamaal Tinsley, Stevie Johnson and Michael Nurse made the Tigers pay for the strategy.

"Continue to play us this way because Mike and Jamaal and Stevie and our team will continue to light it up," said Fizer, who didn't have a field goal the first 17 minutes but finished with 22 points after Auburn was forced to abandon its zones and double-teams.

Johnson had 21 points, Nurse had 14 and Tinsley 12 to help Iowa State (31-5) reach the regional semifinals at Auburn Hills, Mich., where it plays UCLA (21-11) Thursday.

Iowa State won the school's first regular-season conference title in 55 years and set a school record for victories after being picked to finish last in the Big 12.

"It feels great to prove to the people that we're better than what they expected," said forward Kantrail Horton, one of four junior college transfers who make key contributions to Iowa State.

Auburn (24-10) was ahead, 41-38, five minutes into the second half. At 43-43, Tinsley took over, making consecutive, twirling three-point shots from the corner to spark a 19-4 run.

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