Jameel McKay

Associated Press

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

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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.


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.


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

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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

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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.

Three-point barrage leads to No. 19 Baylor’s first-ever win at Iowa State

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While Scott Drew’s 19th-ranked Baylor Bears entered Wednesday’s game at No. 12 Iowa State ranked eighth in the Big 12 in field goal percentage, shooting 43.2% from the field, they ranked among the league’s best in three-point shooting. Baylor was ranked second in the conference in three-point shooting, and it was their ability to shoot from beyond the arc that led to the Bears picking up their first-ever win at Iowa State.

Baylor shot 14-for-26 from beyond the arc, outscoring the Cyclones 42-18 from three, going on to win by the final score of 79-70. And the Bears were at their best from three during a second-half stretch in which they went on an 18-4 run that turned an eight-point deficit (62-54) into a six-point lead (72-66) with 4:43 remaining.

All 18 of Baylor’s points during that run were scored on three-pointers, and the Bears missed just one shot during the run (which was rebounded by Johnathan Motley and led to a three-pointer). In multiple games this season Iowa State’s excellence on the offensive end has helped them take over games, but on Wednesday it was Baylor’s offense that proved to be the deciding factor.

Taurean Prince scored 20 points off the bench to lead the way for Baylor, which finished the game with five double-digit scorers. And for a team that’s had issues with its overall shooting, Wednesday’s performance is a solid follow-up to the 48.2% they shot in the blowout win over Kansas State on Saturday. On seven different occasions in conference play Baylor has shot below 40 percent from the field, but this is a group capable of performing better in that area provided they exercise solid shot selection.

Baylor did a better job of that throughout Wednesday’s game, and it paid off in the end.

Defensively the Bears were able to keep Georges Niang in check, as he shot 4-for-12 from the field. Also of note was Iowa State’s cold perimeter shooting, as they shot 6-for-24 from three, and that falls in line with what the Cyclones have done in the majority of their losses this season.

Iowa State can get scoring from a number of players, and against Baylor Jameel McKay converted multiple opportunities around the basket on his way to 21 points, but the disparity in three-point shooting was too much to overcome. Kansas remains in sole possession of first place in the Big 12 with three games remaining as a result of this game, and Baylor adds another solid road win to its resume to go along with their win at West Virginia.

Reserves step forward to help No. 17 Iowa State beat No. 14 West Virginia

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In his first year of eligibility after sitting out the 2013-14 campaign per NCAA transfer rules, Iowa State forward Abdel Nader hasn’t been a consistent impact player for the Cyclones. Entering Saturday’s game at No. 14 West Virginia, the former Northern Illinois player averaged just 5.0 points and 3.3 rebounds in 15.9 minutes per game. However, it should be noted that in the Cyclones’ two true road victories Nader has been an important contributor.

Saturday night Nader scored 19 points off the bench, matching the 19 points he scored in a win at Iowa December 12, helping to lead the Cyclones to a 74-72 win over the Mountaineers in Morgantown. Nader, who made six of his eleven field goal attempts, also grabbed seven rebounds to lead a group of reserves who combined to contribute 29 points and 18 rebounds.

Jameel McKay, who finished with six points and seven rebounds, also blocked five shots and the contributions of he and Nader (Matt Thomas scored four points) helped Iowa State make up for quiet nights from both Bryce Dejean-Jones and Naz Long. The two starters combined to score just nine points, shooting 3-for-10 from the field and missing all seven of their three-point attempts.

Iowa State also outscored West Virginia 32-18 in the paint, with the Mountaineers finding the task of getting quality looks inside a difficult one at times. As a result West Virginia settled for perimeter shots, attempting 29 three-pointers (nine more than their season average, and they made just seven) and shooting just 32.4% from the field. Juwan Staten scored 23 points but needed 17 shots to do so, with Devin Williams adding 14 points and 15 rebounds in a losing effort.

Saturday’s game was tight throughout, with Iowa State leading by no more than eight points and West Virginia’s largest lead being a meager three points. But Iowa State’s reserves were the difference-makers, as McKay and Nader combined to score nine points during a 9-2 second half run that turned a one-point deficit (58-57) into a six-point lead (66-60) with 3:28 remaining. And while West Virginia would trim that lead to one point on two separate occasions, they were unable to regain the lead.

Even with all five starters averaging double figures, Iowa State’s going to need contributions from their three bench players in order to contend for a Big 12 title. Saturday night they received that help from Nader and McKay, and the result was a valuable conference road victory.

The Ten Most Important Midseason Additions

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Markus Kennedy, SMU: He’s not a transfer — Kennedy missed the first semester as a result of academic issues — but if he gets the grades he needs, Kennedy will be joining the Mustang lineup on Saturday against Michigan. He will be the best big man in the AAC, but will it be too late to turn the conference into more than just a one-bid league?

Jameel McKay, Iowa State: McKay will be eligible this week for the Cyclones. He’s a shotblocking presence and a front court athlete unlike anything that Fred Hoiberg has had in Ames, but on a team that’s built on spacing and having shooters at every position on the floor, how much of an impact will he really have?

Luke Fischer, Marquette: The former Indiana big man will be eligible for Marquette tonight against Arizona State, which is important for the Golden Eagles. They are in dire need of front court help.

Alex Murphy, Florida: Murphy never could find a spot in the Duke lineup, which is why he transferred out of the program last winter. Florida is dealing with all kinds of health and depth issues, and Murphy’s addition will help that. They take on Wake Forest in Gainesville on Saturday.

Jesse Morgan and Devin Coleman, Temple: Temple is just 6-4 on the season, but their back court depth will get quite a boost with the addition of Morgan (UMass) and Coleman (Clemson).

Trayvon Reed, Auburn: Reed began his Auburn career on Sunday, picking up four fouls in eight minutes. The 7-foot-1 top 100 recruit is talented and promising, but he’s still very much a prospect at this point. His impact this season will be minimal.

Eric McClellan, Gonzaga: McClellan will be eligible to play for the Zags on January 8th, and while adding a player that averaged 14.3 points in the SEC sounds, on paper, like a big addition, but there aren’t many minutes to be add in that perimeter. Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell Jr. and Byron Wesley will get their 25-30 minutes, and Kyle Dranginis and Silas Melson will be the first two off the bench.

Savon Goodman, Arizona State: Goodman flamed out at UNLV after he was arrested for breaking into a friend’s apartment and stealing shoes, money and video games. He’ll be eligible at Arizona State beginning tonight. He’ll add perimeter depth, but it likely won’t be a difference-maker for the Sun Devils.

George Marshall, South Dakota State: Marshall played a season and a half at Wisconsin before Trae Jackson took over the starting point guard roll. He’ll be eligible at SDSU on Thursday and should step into the starting point guard role for a team that is 6-3 overall and could win the Summit League.

Cam Biedscheid, Jacksonville State?: There’s a question mark there for a reason. Biedscheid has been all over the place, leaving Notre Dame midway through the 2012-2013 season before getting shipped out at Missouri. He was supposed to be headed to Iona, but that never materialized. The latest? A report saying he’s headed to Jacksonville State and will try to get eligible for this season. Biedscheid is a former four-star recruit and will be one of the best players in the Ohio Valley if he ever ends up playing there.