Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin knew his squad would be playing much stiffer competition in Las Vegas after cruising through its first four games.
Its next opponent will be looking to pull off another surprise.
The 22nd-ranked Bearcats will play for the Global Sports Classic championship Saturday night against upstart Oregon, which knocked off the tournament's host in the semifinals.
Cincinnati (5-0) won its first four games by an average of 34.5 points while scoring 91.5 points per contest, though those opponents weren't expected to present much of challenge.
That changed Friday, though, as unbeaten Iowa State was even with the Bearcats at halftime and stayed close throughout the final 20 minutes in a 78-70 loss.
"I knew it was going to be a tight game in the first half,'' Cronin said. "Two teams playing a major opponent for the first time this season, things were bound to get sloppy.''
Sean Kilpatrick scored 32 points while Cashmere Wright added 14. Kilpatrick, who leads the te...