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Monte Morris leads No. 23 Iowa State past Oklahoma State in Big 12 Tournament

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Senior Monte Morris put together an outstanding performance with 21 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists as No. 23 Iowa State raced past Oklahoma State, 92-83, in the Big 12 quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon.

Morris had a triple-double earlier this season against The Citadel, but his performance on Thursday was far more special. This game came against a tournament-bound Cowboy team with an All-American guard in Jawun Evans during postseason play.

It’s part of the reason that Morris was selected to the NBCSports.com All-American team earlier this week. He was simply dominant on Thursday and Iowa State’s offense looked nearly unstoppable.

While Evans also had a strong game of his own with 29 points and four assists, Morris helped pace the No. 4 seed Cyclones (21-10) as their offense finished 12-for-24 from three-point range.

Morris had plenty of help from teammates as four other Iowa State players finished with at least 13 points. Senior Deonte Burton finished with 17 points while Naz Mitrou-Long added 14 points. Matt Thomas and Darrell Bowie both finished with 13 points.

It was the type of balanced effort that is going to make Iowa State an incredibly tough out next week. The Cyclones are playing with a lot of confidence since moving freshman forward Solomon Young into the starting lineup as this team’s four seniors on the perimeter are really clicking.

When you also get quality bench production from guys like Bowie and junior shooter Donovan Jackson (eight points) then it doesn’t matter if the Cyclones allow some points because that offense is tough to contain.

Iowa State can now potentially get a crack at No. 1 Kansas in a rubber-match that would be a ton of fun. This newer version of the Cyclones with Young could be an intriguing matchup with the Jayhawks and it should be a fun, up-and-down affair.

Oklahoma State (20-12) had a strong game from Jeffrey Carroll (21 points) as they’re still going to be safely in the NCAA tournament.

The Cowboys have dropped three straight games heading into next week but those losses all came against good teams. As a probable 7-through-10 seed (to give a generous range), the Cowboys are going to be an intriguing team to watch in the tournament based on matchup.

Evans is as good as any point guard in the country and Carroll and senior Phil Forte gives the Cowboys enough offensive firepower to hang with anyone. Given head coach Brad Underwood’s NCAA tournament track record at Stephen F. Austin the last three seasons — winning two out of three first-round games — the Cowboys should be well-prepared for anything.

Iowa State secures important Big 12 home win over No. 9 Baylor

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Iowa State continued its recent strong stretch of play as they held on to knock off No. 9 Baylor 72-69 for a Big 12 home win on Saturday afternoon.

The win gives the Cyclones (19-9, 11-5) seven consecutive wins while they also snapped a five-game losing streak against Baylor that included two straight home losses. Baylor had one last shot to tie on a full-court pass with 1.4 seconds left but King McClure’s three-pointer was off at the buzzer.

Senior Deonte Burton banked home a key late three-pointer and made an important late steal as he led Iowa State with 22 points while senior point guard Monte Morris added 17 points and seven assists for the Cyclones.

Since inserting freshman big man Solomon Young (11 points) into the starting lineup, the Cyclones have looked like a new team as Young’s added toughness has given Iowa State a major boost on the interior. With Iowa State’s front court struggles improving gradually over time — they still have issues on the defensive glass like they did against Baylor — the team’s perimeter has continued to hum along since the Cyclones have so many veterans on the perimeter.

And when Burton is on like he was on Saturday, Iowa State is tough to beat. Guys like Matt Thomas and Naz Mitrou-Long can have off-nights if Burton is rolling because he’s the type of player who can go for 30 if he gets hot. When Burton is producing on the offensive end it also boosts his energy on the defensive end as he is typically a player who needs to be motivated a bit to give it his all on that end of the floor.

Being his senior year, hopefully Burton continues to stay motivated and play at a high level during the home stretch. He’s certainly had some great outings this season.

Morris is still one of the nation’s best point guards, Thomas and Mitrou-Long are solid senior shooters and Young is a decent piece who is serviceable inside. But this Iowa State will go as far as Burton is playing well. The Cyclones can hang with anyone when Burton is playing at his best but they can look completely average if he has an off-night.

With Iowa State continuing to pile up wins, they could see their NCAA tournament seeding start to get interesting, especially since they have remaining games against tournament-bound, top-50 RPI teams like Oklahoma State and West Virginia.

Sweeping Oklahoma State would be solid for Iowa State while the road game at West Virginia is a game that could decide second place in the Big 12 before the conference tournament.

Baylor (23-6, 10-6) has now lost three of its last four games as their offense has struggled over the last few outings. Junior forward Johnathan Motley continues to be a force on offense as he finished with a team-high 27 points and added 11 rebounds. But Motley still isn’t getting enough help.

Al Freeman (14 points) and Ish Wainwright (14 points) were more assertive on the offensive end on Saturday and this team’s offense should also look a lot better when Manu Lecomte’s ankle heals a bit more.

There are some concerns about Baylor’s ability to take good shots in the half court, but Lecomte not being at full speed was also a huge part of that on Saturday. Baylor better fix things quickly with its offense because they get a game at home against West Virginia on Monday and the Bears are really sliding.

A team that was once in the conversation for a No. 1 seed is now falling very quickly and might finish fourth in the Big 12 after such a strong start.

Iowa State comes back to shock No. 3 Kansas in overtime

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Iowa State fought back from a 15-point deficit to force overtime and shocked Kansas with a 92-89 Big 12 road win at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday. Svi Mykhailiuk missed the potential game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer as the Big 12 race grew a lot more interesting with a loss for the Jayhawks.

The Cyclones (14-8, 6-4) were able to get back in this one thanks to three 20-point scorers as Deonte Burton (29 points), Monte Morris (25 points) and Naz Mitrou-Long (22 points) all got hot. Those three helped the Cyclones hit 18 three-pointers — setting a new school record — as the Jayhawks lost for only the 10th time in Allen Fieldhouse under Bill Self.

This win is humongous for Iowa State because it’s a signature victory for its NCAA tournament campaign. Iowa State was 0-5 against RPI top-25 teams and 2-7 against top-50 teams. Beating Kansas is a huge win, especially since it came on the road and snapped such a huge winning streak.

Now the Cyclones don’t have to worry about facing Kansas again in conference play and they only have one game each with Baylor and West Virginia. That gives Iowa State a chance to add more wins and improve its seeding as we get closer to March.

The Cyclones at one point went 14 minutes without a rebound in the first half and could have easily rolled over. Instead they fought back and hit shots in one of the toughest environments in college basketball. A senior-laden team is supposed to do that sort of thing and this comeback is the mark of a veteran team who isn’t scared to fight.

Iowa State still needs to improve on the glass and get more stops on defense but they have the scoring pop to make big comebacks like this and Morris continues to be one of college basketball’s best big-game players.

The Jayhawks (20-3, 9-2) had a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes on Saturday as they squandered this opportunity for a win. Kansas had 21 turnovers and they missed a couple of key late free throws that could have really helped at the end of both regulation and overtime.

To lose this one even as senior guard Frank Mason continued his Player of the Year campaign is tough. Mason went for 32 points as he was 8-for-11 from the field and 10-for-12 from the free-throw line but it wasn’t enough for a depleted Kansas team. It should be noted that Mason started 8-for-8 from the field but he missed the potential game-winner in regulation and went scoreless in overtime.

Mykhailiuk finished with 17 points while Josh Jackson (15 points) and Devonte Graham (11 points) both finished in double-figures.

Kansas is now tied with Baylor in the loss column in the Big 12, but the Bears find themselves in trouble against Kansas State in the second half in a conference game on Saturday afternoon.

Iowa State is the only team to beat Bill Self twice at Allen Fieldhouse as this was the first home loss for Kansas since losing to San Diego State during the 2013-14 season. It snapped a 54-game winning streak for Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse.

No. 2 Kansas utilizes mismatches to outlast Iowa State

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Kansas used its size advantage to pound the glass as the Jayhawks outlasted Iowa State for a 76-72 Big 12 road win on Monday.

Using only a seven-man rotation once again, Kansas (17-1, 6-0) used its size advantage on the interior and on the wings to crush the Cyclones on the boards as they outrebounded Iowa State 41-22. With a huge advantage on the interior, Kansas focused on working the ball inside-out as they shot 54 percent from the floor.

Kansas did a great job of finding mismatches on the offensive end and had a balanced scoring effort as all seven players scored between 16 and six points. Senior Frank Mason paced the Jayhawks with 16 points and chipped in six rebounds while Landen Lucas (14 points), Svi Mykhailiuk (13 points) and Carlton Bragg (10 points) all finished in double figures.

Iowa State (11-6, 3-3) was able to hang with Kansas for the entire game but they just couldn’t get over the hump every time they would cut the lead to around four points. The Cyclones tried to use a little bit of Hilton Magic to make a late charge, as Monte Morris (23 points) made two free throws to cut the Kansas lead to three with under 20 seconds left but it ultimately wasn’t enough.

With Iowa State lacking the size to matchup with Kansas, the Cyclone offense had a lot of one-and-done possessions since they had no offensive rebounders that were a threat. The Kansas perimeter defense limited Iowa State to a lot of contested jumpers as the Cyclones shot 33.3 percent (9-for-27) three-point shooting. Deonte Burton added 21 points for Iowa State while Naz Mitrou-Long added 18 points.

It’s never easy to win at Iowa State, so the Jayhawks will certainly take this win and be happy with it as they just seem to have a huge matchup advantage against the Cyclones this season.

No. 20 Iowa State beats Mount St. Mary’s 73-55

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AMES, Iowa (AP) Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said last month that forward Deonte Burton’s goal should be to get a double-double every game.

Burton got his first one out of the way Monday night, helping the 20th-ranked Cyclones through their first bout of minor adversity this season.

Monte Morris scored 18 points, Matt Thomas added 13 and Iowa State beat Mount St. Mary’s 73-55.

Burton had 10 points and 13 rebounds for the Cyclones (2-0), who’ve won their first two games by an average of 30 points.

“He’s made such great strides. I’m very, very proud of him. But now he’s got to continue to push himself to make the next step,” Prohm said.

Mount St. Mary’s (0-2) got within 10 early in the second half, but six Cyclones scored during a 15-1 run that put the game out of reach.

Iowa State outrebounded Mount St. Mary’s 50-38, but it also shot an uncharacteristic 4 of 16 from 3-point range.

Nick Weiler-Babb scored 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting and pulled down five rebounds for the Cyclones.

“It was a win. It probably wasn’t our best performance offensively. At times defensively also,” Morris said.

Elijah Long, the brother of Iowa State’s Naz Mitrou-Long, had 19 points to lead the Mountaineers.

BIG PICTURE

Iowa State: Through two games, it’s clear the rebuilt Cyclones have a ton of talent – and they’re much deeper than they were a year ago. But fans won’t start to find out if that will translate vs. top competition until next week, when the Iowa State travels to Orlando for a tournament that could include a matchup with No. 14 Gonzaga.

Mount St. Mary’s: Long finally got to play against his brother with roughly 20 family members in attendance – and Elijah helped his team keep it respectable. The Mountaineers showed some fight too, pushing the Cyclones after falling behind by 17 at halftime.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Iowa State jumped up four spots on Monday simply by throttling Savannah State on Friday. A few more blowouts and a few more losses by teams ahead of the Cyclones could help Iowa State inch further up the poll.

SIMEON’S SUSPENSION

Iowa State announced before the game that reserve Simeon Carter had been suspended three games for violating team rules. It’s yet another setback for the once-promising recruit, who appears to be out of Prohm’s rotation for the second year in a row.

HONORING DEJEAN-JONES

Iowa State honored former player Bryce Dejean-Jones, who was killed over the summer after a promising rookie season with the New Orleans Pelicans, by wearing warmup shirts with his number. “A lot of people that didn’t know him probably had their own opinion of him. But me personally, starting with the guy and seeing how he carried himself and preparing for games, it was big time,” said Morris, who played with Dejean-Jones in 2014-15.

UP NEXT

Iowa State hosts The Citadel on Sunday, and there’s little doubt ball movement will be on the agenda in practice this week. The Cyclones had just 14 assists on 30 baskets.

Mount St. Mary’s continues a brutal stretch of nine road games to start 2016-17 when it plays Minnesota on Wednesday.

More college basketball at http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org

Iowa State wearing uniform patches to honor Bryce Dejean-Jones

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Iowa State will wear uniform patches and warm-up shirts to honor the life of former Cyclone star Bryce Dejean-Jones on Monday night.

The guard was a key piece for the Cyclones in 2014-15 as a graduate transfer from UNLV as he helped Iowa State to a strong season and Big 12 tournament title. The undrafted Dejean-Jones went on to sign and play with the New Orleans Pelicans during last season.

Dejean-Jones was killed last May when he entered the wrong apartment looking for his ex-girlfriend as he was shot and killed during a struggle.