CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Jamie Vanderbeken caught the ball at the top of the key, without a defender close by, and the 6-foot-11 center casually let fly with a 3-point shot.
Swish. And then he did it again. And again.
Vanderbeken made five 3-pointers and scored a career-high 24 points Thursday night, and surprising Iowa State turned its first game outside its home state into its sixth consecutive victory, and one of its best so far this season, beating Virginia 60-47.
"People weren't expecting us to do anything this year," Vanderbeken said after the Cyclones improved to 12-2. "To prove those people wrong, it feels great."
First-year coach Fred Hoiberg is liking his team's resolve, and attitude.
"Our guys, definitely they are playing with a chip on their shoulder," he said. "We had zero expectations coming into this. Every expert picked us last. Every coach in the conference picked us last so we're just going out there and playing with nothing to lose."
Vanderbeken hit 5 of 8 3-point shots, and said the attention paid to Diante Garrett, the Cyclones' leading scorer at 17.2 points, made it almost easy — as long as the shots fell.
"The way they were defending the pick and roll between me and D.G., they were hedging real hard on him," Vanderbeken said. "I was just spacing the floor and he'd kick it back.
"I was just taking my time, taking what the Virginia defense was giving me."
Scott Christopherson added 14 points and Melvin Ejim 10 for the Cyclones.
It helped that the Cavaliers couldn't make anything. They were playing without scoring and rebounding leader Mike Scott, who tweaked a balky left ankle this week. Virginia missed 21 of its first 24 shots, its first 14 3-point tries and finished 20 for 62 from the field.
"We need to keep going to the drawing board to get good looks," coach Tony Bennett said.
K.T. Harrell led Virginia (8-5) with nine points.
The Cylones led 24-15 at halftime and a basket by Mustapha Farrakhan 17 seconds into the second half made it a seven-point game. But Vanderbeken and Christopherson each hit two 3-pointers in a 14-0 burst and the offensively-challenged Cavaliers never caught up.
After a nice stretch when the Cavaliers surprised by winning at Minnesota, at Virginia Tech and at home against Oregon, they have struggled mightily in dropping two of three. They needed a tip-in in the final seconds to beat Norfolk State, which had lost six in a row.
"It's easy when you beat a Minnesota or Virginia Tech on the road to be all in," Bennett said of his young team's psyche, "but when you lose tough games like this, that's when it really tests you. We'll have to really scrap and we'll find out what our character is."
Bennett at one point got so frustrated by the parade of bad passes and missed opportunities he sent five freshman out on the court together, and they sparked a rally.
The Cavaliers pulled within 45-32 with 9:33 to play, but Garrett made his first field goal of the game and Ejim followed with a three-point play with 8:04 to play. That made it 50-34, and the Cavaliers never got closer than 11.
The first half was brutal, especially for the Cavaliers. They missed 13 of their first 14 shots, and still had only two points after the second media timeout, with 11:58 to play.
Still, they trailed just 8-2, and Vanderbeken had all the Cyclones' points.
Iowa State eventually stretched its lead to 21-6 with 5:16 to play before Virginia — and Assane Sene — warmed up. The 7-footer made a three-point play with 4 minutes left, and later scored inside and then on a tip-in at the first-half buzzer, pulling Virginia within 24-15.
Sene's three field goals equaled half his total — on 23 tries — for the season coming in, and the inside baskets were critical since the Cavaliers were 0-for-13 on 3s. Until Harrell made one with 15:08 to play, Virginia had made only two of its previous 34 3s.