Jameel McKay

Chauncy Parker, Jameel McKay
Associated Press

No. 4 Iowa State beats Arkansas-Pine Bluff 78-64

Leave a comment

AMES, Iowa (AP) Jameel McKay scored 18 points with eight rebounds, and No. 4 Iowa State held off Arkansas-Pine Bluff 78-64 Sunday for its ninth straight win.

Matt Thomas had 17 points in his first start of the season for the Cyclones (9-0). They rested guard Naz Mitrou-Long, who is still working his way back from offseason surgery to repair both hips.

The Golden Lions (2-8) hung around for about 35 minutes against an Iowa State team three days removed from an emotional 83-82 win over rival Iowa. But Monte Morris’ alley-oop to McKay gave the Cyclones a 70-54 lead with just more than 5 minutes left.

Ghiavonni Robinson scored 15 points for Arkansas-Pine Bluff, which lost its third straight.

This was Iowa State’s second-to-last game against a low-major opponent. Arkansas-Pine Bluff caused more problems for the Cyclones than most thought it could.

Iowa State was sloppy from the outset, turning the ball over seven times in the first 10 minutes. It didn’t take its first double-digit lead until late in the first half, when a pair of free throws by Abdel Nader put the Cyclones up 33-23.

The Golden Lions played at times as well as they have all season, and some defensive lapses kept Iowa State from making the kind of big run that would’ve put them away earlier. The Cyclones also committed 13 turnovers, but the game was never really in doubt.

Morris, whose floater with 9 seconds left beat the Hawkeyes, had 12 points and 11 assists for his third double-double this season.

TIP-INS

Arkansas-Pine Bluff: The Golden Lions have been beaten by at least 14 points in each of their losses. … Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s first home game isn’t until Jan. 16 against Southern. … Arkansas-Pine Bluff hit just two free throws.

Iowa State: Mitrou-Long started the first eight games, averaging 12 points. Thomas started in place of Long. … Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register missed the game after breaking his leg when fans stormed the court following Thursday’s win over Iowa. Peterson told The Associated Press he hopes to cover Iowa State’s next game, Saturday in Des Moines against Northern Iowa.

UP NEXT

Arkansas-Pine Bluff plays at Santa Clara on Tuesday.

Iowa State plays Northern Iowa in Des Moines on Saturday.

Follow Luke Meredith on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/LukeMeredithAP and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/LukeMeredithAP

Steve Prohm and Monte Morris comment on Jameel McKay’s cryptic tweets

AP
Leave a comment

On Friday, Iowa State returned home following the team’s trip to Spain. The Cyclones finished 2-1 on the foreign tour with the lone loss coming to the Venezuelan National Team last Wednesday.

After the 82-77 loss, Iowa State center Jameel McKay sent out four tweets in a 15-minute span, voicing his frustration with the team’s performance. Travis Hines, of the Ames Tribune, had taken screenshots of the tweets, which are still up on McKay’s account, and on Friday, Hines asked Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm and point guard Monte Morris about their interpretations of the tweets. According to Hines, Prohm had not seen the tweets, but was expecting “great things” from McKay this season.

Morris seemed to have a better understanding of his roommates’ tweets.

“I think he just tweets sometimes for no reason,” Morris told the Ames Tribune.

To add context to the string of tweets, the mini-rant came after a disappointing outcome in Iowa State’s first game of the trip. The Cyclones had jumped out to a 20-2 lead, but the Venezuelan team would take control, thanks to 64 percent shooting in the second half. The Cyclones entered the contest shorthanded with only six scholarship players, nine in all. It was only made worse when Georges Niang, Hallice Cooke and Morris all fouled out. 

For the remainder of the trip, McKay’s tweets had a positive tone, even replying to a fan, “Thanks but Win is more important” after he congratulated McKay on a 25-point performance. While Prohm and Morris are right to downplay Wednesday’s tweets, it serves as a reminder of the significance each 140-character message can have.

The 6-foot-9 McKay averaged 16.0 points and 10.0 boards during the trip.

Offensive discipline will be key for No. 13 Iowa State next week – and beyond

Iowa State wins another Big 12 tourney crown (Getty Images)
Leave a comment
source: Getty Images
Iowa State wins another Big 12 tourney crown (Getty Images)

Saturday night No. 13 Iowa State won its second consecutive Big 12 tournament title, beating No. 9 Kansas 70-66, but for the second time in three games the Cyclones needed a second-half surge to earn the victory.

Thursday night, Iowa State turned in one of its poorer halves of the season in their quarterfinal matchup against Texas. The Cyclones struggled with ball and player movement on the offensive end of the floor for much of the first half, with a late run making the halftime deficit a more manageable nine points.

Of course the Cyclones managed to come back, winning by two on a Monté Morris jumper in the final seconds, but Fred Hoiberg’s team was “playing with fire” in falling behind by as much as they did. Iowa State had the same problem in the first half against the Jayhawks, as they were far too stagnant offensively and the lack of ball and player movement had a significant impact on their productivity.

The Cyclones shot 10-for-29 from the field (1-for-11 3PT), and they trailed by 14 despite scoring 16 points in the paint. That turned around in the second half, as Iowa State shot 16-for-31 from the field and scored 31 points in the paint. Given the number of shooters they have on the floor, there are times when Iowa State falls in love with the perimeter shot and essentially bails out the defense.

That didn’t occur in the second half Saturday, and the result was Iowa State being able to take advantage of a Kansas front court that is without Cliff Alexander and despite his playing Perry Ellis doesn’t look to be 100 percent either. Morris (11 points, six assists) and Niang (19 points, five rebounds) combined to score 20 points in the second half, and players such as Jameel McKay (11 points, eight points), Abdel Nader (13 points) and Bryce Dejean-Jones (seven points) stepped forward as well.

Add in the fact that they were able to limit the Jayhawks to 26.3 percent shooting, and the reasons for Iowa State’s comeback aren’t difficult to pinpoint.

There’s no denying that Iowa State can be a team capable of making a run to the Final Four, and that appeared to be the case last season before Niang broke his foot in their NCAA tournament opener. But their “ceiling” will be determined by how consistent this group is in its approach. When Iowa State is disciplined offensively and uses proper spacing to attack defenses, they are incredibly tough to stop. And when that doesn’t occur, Iowa State essentially defends itself with the opposition needing to do little more than remain in front of them.

Iowa State’s offensive approach in the second half of Saturday’s game resulted in their winning another Big 12 tournament title. And they’ll need to stick to the principles that make them so difficult to slow down for longer stretches if they’re to play deep into the NCAA tournament. They’re certainly capable; the only question is whether or not they choose to do so.