Thursday was Tyrus McGee's birthday, his 22nd.
The Stringtown native and Iowa State senior, facing off against Oklahoma at the Big 12 Tournament, saved his best for late, firing in a 3-pointer at the 2:44 mark to send the Cyclones ahead for good in a 73-66 win.
One of the league's best sixth men, McGee is Iowa State's second-leading scorer at 13.3 points per game. And on the nation's top 3-pointing team, he's the leader, making 88-of-191 shots from the arc so far.
After averaging 36.1 points as a senior at Stringtown, McGee went to Cowley County Community College before joining the Cyclones a year ago.
So, any special birthday plans?
“I'm probably going to meet up with my mom and my cousins and go out to eat. Then probably meet up with the team at the hotel and chill until we play KU (Friday).”
Were you this player at Stringtown?
“Yeah, I was. I was a little guy at that time, though. In high school, I was probably about 5-10, had a big ol' afro. All my other players, they were like 6-7, 6-8. I really didn't have to do much until they graduated.”
Why didn't anyone find you down there, the local schools especially?
“The locals found me, but OU and OSU, I wasn't trying to go there. I wanted to get out of Oklahoma. At that time, I graduated the year Blake Griffin did and I was like, ‘I'm not going to be going to Oklahoma when he's there.' And then OSU, I've never been a big basketball fan of OSU. I like their football, but that's about it.”
Are these games special, when you get to play OU and OSU?
“Yeah, it is special. My mom, she wants me to smack 'em every time we play them. She was here today. I know my family enjoyed it. It's always good to play somebody from your home state.”
Have you had to educate your teammates on Stringtown?
“I have. They always say I'm a country boy, but it doesn't bother me too much. I mean, I like being called a country boy. Most people look at me as a city boy. But when I tell them I'm from the country, they're like, ‘Really?'”
What have you done to make yourself such a good shooter?
“Getting into the gym, putting up a lot of shots. Getting some managers, two or three of them, getting passed the ball. Getting shots before practice. After practice. In my free time; even when I'm doing homework.”
Safe to say you have no fear of taking the big shot?
“No, I don't. I was struggling today (2-of-7 shooting overall). Coach (Fred Hoiberg) told me to keep shooting it. When I shot the last one — and I didn't think it was going to go in, the way it came off my hand — thank God it went in.”
You've lost two heartbreakers to Kansas. Now you get them again. A meeting you were hoping for?
“We're ready for it. It's the third time. We played them at their place, close game, we got beat. Same thing at our place. Third time's the charm. We're ready for a little revenge.”
By John Helsley