State of Iowa downs No. 1 North Carolina 70-65 – The Breeze-Courier

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Caleb Grill has followed TJ Otzelberger from the state of South Dakota to UNLV and now back to the state of Iowa in hopes the couple could share a moment like Friday’s.

Taking down the country’s No. 1 team was another milestone in a long journey for the couple.

“I really enjoy sitting next to him from that moment on and just thinking about how long we’ve known each other and how cool that was really,” Otzelberger said.

Grill hit seven 3-pointers for a career-high 31 points, and Iowa State rallied in the final five minutes to stun No. 1 North Carolina 70-65 in the semifinals of the Phil Knight Invitational.

Iowa State (5-0) clinched just its third win against a No. 1 team on the AP Top 25. The Cyclones are 3-22 against No. 1 teams, with the other wins coming against Kansas in 1957 and Oklahoma in 2016.

The Cyclones can now add North Carolina (5-1) to the list.

“I just followed the game. I never really thought about it and the game just came to me,” Grill said.

Grill averaged 7.3 points and had made just 4 of 24 3-point attempts for the season beginning Friday. But he couldn’t be stopped from beyond the arc, hitting a pair of big threes to start Iowa State’s late rally. His deep fadeaway jump just inside the 3-point line with 1:40 left gave Iowa State a 63-61 lead and the Cyclones did just enough in the final minute at the free throw line to end the upset win.

Grill’s previous career high was 27 points while playing against Alabama for UNLV in the 2020-21 season. He also hit seven 3-pointers in that game.

Grill originally signed with South Dakota State while Otzelberger was a coach there. He was relieved of his tenure when Otzelberger took over the top job at UNLV and began his career at Iowa State before deciding to join his coach in Las Vegas.

BIG PICTURE

North Carolina: Pete Nance couldn’t make the same contribution as in Thursday’s opening round. Nance, who had a career-high 28 points against Portland, didn’t score in the first 27 minutes and finished with seven points.

State of Iowa: The Cyclones played a No. 1 team from outside their conference for the first time since 1999, when they faced Cincinnati in the championship game of the Big Island Invitational.

NEXT

Iowa State will face either No. 18 Alabama or No. 20 UConn in the championship game while the Tar Heels battle the loser for third place.

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