A day after the Cyclones struggled to knock off Indiana State, No. 21 Iowa State pulled away late to knock off Miami is what was their best performance of the year to date.
Iowa State won 73-56, and in a vacuum, that score is promising. The question mark with this team is on the defensive end of the floor, and holding a team like Miami to 56 points is unquestionably a good performance.
But there’s more to this that we need to talk about.
For starters, Iowa State’s win came in a game where Monte’ Morris and Naz Long barely showed up. Morris had just six points and five assists while shooting 2-for-8 from the floor while Long was 4-for-13 from the floor and 2-for-9 from three. Entering the year, those were arguably Iowa State’s two best and most important players.
And then there is Deonte Burton. He’s the guy that can be called the x-factor for this team. A freak of an athlete, Burton is a versatile, 6-foot-5 forward that Iowa State needs to play something of a Draymond Green role is they are going to be as good as their fan base wants them to be. On Friday, he looked like he could be that guy. Playing by far his best game of the season, Burton finished with 21 points and seven boards, hitting his first two threes of the season and setting the tone early.
It’s a promising performance for the Cyclones, who will play the winner of No. 11 Gonzaga and Florida in the Advocare Invitational title game on Sunday.