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.