December 26, 2013

Hoiberg, Cyclones top Iowa stories


It was the game of the year — won by the team of the year in Iowa sports.
Iowa had the ball and a 3-point lead with less than a minute left of a thrilling matchup with the rival Cyclones at Hilton Coliseum on Dec. 13. But Iowa State, helped immensely by a raucous home crowd, rallied to beat the Hawkeyes and highlight a fantastic 2013 for Fred Hoiberg’s surging program.
The Cyclones made back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances for the first time in 12 years in March, where they blasted Notre Dame before Ohio State’s Aaron Craft broke their hearts with a buzzer-beating 3. The Cyclones soon reloaded behind transfers DeAndre Kane and Dustin Hogue and became the last unbeaten team in the Big 12 to start this season.
Iowa State will enter 2014 as a legitimate contender for the conference title and a deep run in March.
The Cyclones certainly weren’t the only team to make news in Iowa this year, though. Here are some of the other top stories in Iowa sports in 2013.
2. HAWKEYE REVIVAL: After finishing 4-8 with six straight Big Ten losses in 2012, most thought Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes were due for a .500 season at best. But after some early stumbles in league play, Iowa reeled off three straight wins — capped by a 38-17 waxing of Nebraska on the road — to finish the regular season at 8-4 and 5-3 in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes defense blossomed into one of the best in the country, sophomore Jake Rudock had a promising debut season and Iowa wound up with a berth in the Outback Bowl against LSU. Next year could be even better for the Hawkeyes, who return a majority of their starters and appear to have a much more manageable schedule in 2014.
3. HOOPS TOO: Iowa’s basketball team was also on a major upswing in 2013. Though the Hawkeyes narrowly missed the NCAA tournament, they made a run to the finals of the NIT and started this season at 11-2, earning a spot in the Top 25. Iowa is one of the deepest teams in the country and looks ready to compete for a Big Ten title in the weeks ahead.

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