PORTLAND, Oregon — Iowa State head coach T.J. Otzelberger had tears in his eyes as he sat subsequent to senior Caleb Grill on the postgame information convention.
Grill put collectively what Otzelberger known as a “surreal” efficiency towards the No. 1 staff within the nation, scoring a career-high 31 factors and going 7-for-11 from past the arc because the Hawkeyes shocked North Carolina 70-65 within the Phil Knight Invitational semifinals at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland.
It was this system’s first win over a No. 1 staff since Jan. 18, 2016, in keeping with ESPN Stats & Info analysis.
For Otzelberger, Grill’s evening was particularly gratifying, contemplating the unimaginable journey to 2 have shared over time. In keeping with Grill, Otzelberger was the primary one that ever recruited him, and he adopted Otzelberger because the coach moved throughout three completely different packages.
“It is simply superb whenever you actually take into consideration how lengthy we have identified one another and the belief we have had in one another,” Otzelberger stated earlier than he paused to gather himself. “To have the ability to do that with individuals that you simply love, folks that you recognize you are gonna be on this journey with for the remainder of your life — man, that is actually particular. It might be exhausting to even put into phrases how proud I’m of Caleb Grill.”
Otzelberger was the top coach at South Dakota State when he met Grill, then a sophomore at Maize Excessive Faculty in Maize, Kansas. Grill dedicated to SDSU, however when Otzelberger left for UNLV in 2019, Grill selected Iowa State. A yr later, nevertheless, he was again with Otzelberger at UNLV after which he adopted him again to Iowa State final season when Otzelberger took the Cyclones job.
“Simply having him be the primary individual that actually had perception in me, it is simply actually particular what he is completed for me and my household and all the things we have completed,” Grill stated.
Grill and Jaren Holmes (22 factors), a St. Bonaventure switch, mixed to attain 53 of Iowa State’s 70 factors.
Coming into Friday’s recreation, Grill was 4-for-24 from the 3-point line this season.
Along with his staff down by seven factors with 3:57 to go, nevertheless, Grill made one among his seven 3-pointers, which kicked off Iowa State’s closing run to victory over the No. 1 staff within the nation.
“He was scorching the complete recreation,” North Carolina head coach Hubert Davis stated. “He is anyone, percentage-wise, who wasn’t capturing effectively coming into the sport. It actually did not matter. He was feeling it right now.”
After the Tar Heels fought to keep away from a possible upset towards Portland on Thanksgiving Day, Davis stated he was fearful that his gamers had completed issues in that recreation that “we do not follow.” Davis additionally stated the Tar Heels had been coping with “reward” for the primary time because the nation’s No. 1 staff following final yr’s run to the nationwide title recreation.
Earlier than final yr’s run, Leaky Black had been the one participant on the roster who’d received an NCAA match recreation.
However Davis stated Friday he isn’t fearful about his staff dropping its No. 1 spot as a result of a program’s standing in March exceeds any rankings in November.
“I bear in mind the nationwide champions,” he stated.
For Otzelberger, it is one other signal of progress for this system. Two years in the past, Iowa State fired Steve Prohm following a two-win season. In his first season as head coach, Otzelberger led the Cyclones to the Candy 16 final yr.
On Friday, he helped the staff win its first recreation over a No. 1 program – Iowa State will face the winner of Friday’s UConn-Alabama matchup – in six years. And he did it with the assistance of a participant he stated he is at all times trusted.
Grill did not embrace the postgame hype, although. He stated he simply benefited from the alternatives his teammates had given me.
“I used to be simply staying the course of the sport,” Grill stated. “Credit score to my teammates for locating me on these open appears.”