Monte’ Morris finished with 19 points, eight assists and eight boards to lead five players in double figures as No. 5 Iowa State avoided an upset at the hands of No. 12 Nevada, 84-73.
The Cyclones jumped out to a big lead in the first half before the Wolf Pack made their push. They cut a 15-point lead to four at one point in the second half, but Nevada was never able to get closer than that.
The concern in this game for Iowa State was whether or not that Nevada front court would be able to dominate the Cyclones on the interior, and, frankly, that did happen to a point. Cameron Oliver, who is a borderline first round pick, finished with 22 points while Jordan Caroline added 20. But Marcus Marshall, the team’s leading scorer, was just 5-for-16 from the floor with five of Nevada’s seven turnovers, and that ended up being Nevada’s undoing. Too many empty possessions for a team that simply couldn’t stop Iowa State. The Cyclones shot 8-for-19 from three and better than 55 percent from the floor.
For Nevada, the intrigue isn’t this season. It’s next season. On paper, the Wolf Pack look like they should be loaded, but there’s a very real chance that both head coach Eric Musselman and star center Oliver will be gone next year, Oliver to the pros and Musselman to one of the high-major openings on the west coast. If they both come back, which doesn’t seem likely, Nevada may be a top 25 team next season, and a program of that caliber is exactly what the Mountain West, which has been a one-bid league that’s gone winless in the tournament the last two years, desperately needs.
Iowa State will advance to take on No. 4 seed Purdue on Saturday. The Boilermakers knocked off No. 13 seed Vermont this afternoon.