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Iowa History Daily: January 21 - The John Neal Game

Iowa History Daily: On January 21, 2004, Iowa State walk-on John Neal etched his name into Cyclone lore when he hit two big threes late to help beat Iowa 84-76 at Hilton Coliseum. In a hotly contested Cy-Hawk contest, the walk-on from Winterset wielded some Hilton Magic to help Iowa State over the Hawks.

The Cyclones, in the first year of the post-Larry Eustachy era fielded a talented team featuring Jake Sullivan, Curtis Stinson, and Will Blalock. An equally talented Hawkeye squad boasting Jeff Horner, Pierre Pierce, and Greg Bruner arrived in Ames for the Cy-Hawk matchup. The night, however, proved destined to belong to a little known walk-on from Winterset. 

With no Division I offers out of high school, Neal enrolled at Iowa State hoping to make the team. The son of a standout offensive linemen for the Cyclones of the late-1970s and early 80s, Brian Neal, the 6’4” shooting guard managed to earn a walk-on spot. Not a primary contributor, Neal suddenly found himself in the heat of the action with under five minutes to play against the Hawkeyes.

The Cyclones commanded the action early, leading by 9 at the half. A ferocious comeback saw the Hawkeyes push ahead 68-63 on a Pierre Pierce bucket with 4:43 to play. Enter Neal: the walk-on from Winterset ignited the dismayed Hilton Coliseum crowd by hitting a three on the next possession. Neal contributed a second three and a couple of key defensive plays to help spur a 21-8 run as the Cyclones captured the 84-76 win. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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