I feel like I have used the word “workmanlike” to describe at least half of Iowa State’s 13 wins so far during what has been a historic basketball season in Ames. That adjective was appropriate once again on Saturday as Fred Hoiberg’s Cyclones grinded their way to a 73-62 victory in front of what seemed like 500 bored Texas Tech fans.
It wasn’t easy though. Iowa State led this game by 15 at halftime, only to allow Tech to tie the game up at 50 with 12:32 to play. That’s when Iowa State manned up and held the Red Raiders to only four points in the next six minutes and 12 total in the last 12 minutes of the game. From that 12:32 mark on, it was all Iowa State.
It was another gritty (another word that I seem to keep using) performance by a basketball team that should be defined by its toughness (meaning if you hear anybody say anything else about this team “living and dying by the three,” smack him/her because they could not be more wrong).
Georges Niang led the way for Iowa State with 17 points but the unsung heroes were the story in this one. Guys like true freshman Monte Morris, who played 24 minutes while scoring 11 points along the way. Matt Thomas didn’t exactly blow up, but the freshman was 2-for-3 from 3-point range and scored eight points that proved to be critical. Naz Long collected five rebounds too.
Those are the types of games that you like to see from guy who aren’t part of the "big four” on the road in Big 12 play. Those are the types of performances from depth guys that separate good teams from great ones.
Life on the road is never easy. When Tech tied that game up at 50, fans have every reason in the world to feel an uncomfortable lump in the back of their throats (been there, done that right?). But this is a different Iowa State basketball team at a different time. It is a team that rarely takes a bad shot. The Cyclones dished out 14 assists on 22 field goals on Saturday. Stat lines like that have been a common trend during the first 13 games of the season.
It is an unselfish team that plays solid defense and as a result, good shots are easier to find. That should bode well away from Hilton Coliseum during the summer months.
It isn’t like you didn’t already know this but on Saturday, Iowa State once again proved to be contender win the Big 12. Iowa State did what it was supposed to do. That’s take care of business against an inferior opponent.
Lunch pail. Hard hat. Whatever. Iowa State is 1-0 in the Big 12 and that is all that matters.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Monte Morris – Other players had better box scores but I’m not sure if Iowa State would have won this game with out the production of true freshman Monte Morris. Dustin Hogue wasn’t himself on Saturday as the forward was battling some sort of illness. Iowa State desperately needed somebody, anybody to step up off of the bench and produce. Morris’ number was called and he never flinched once. Morris was 5-for-5 from the free throw line and 3-for-5 from the field. Morris has been solid all season long for Iowa State but showed an extra gear on Saturday. That is encouraging for the rest of the season.
School record – With the win, Iowa State tied its school record for consecutive wins at 13. The only thing standing between the Cyclones and the record is Scott Drew, as up next is a home date with Baylor (6 p.m. on ESPNU) on Tuesday.
Turnovers – Iowa State only committed five of them, while forcing 13 from the Red Raiders.
Matt Thomas – I could go on and on about Georges Niang, DeAndre Kane and Melvin Ejim but what is important here is how Iowa State can get even better for the larger games of the conference schedule down the road. Matt Thomas has the most room for improvement and his 2-for-3 day from long range showed just that. It was a baby step but the rookie looked more confident than he has in recent weeks. That’s a good sign. This kid is one five 3-pointer game way from breaking out and being a real force.
Start to the second half – Blowing a 15-point halftime lead isn’t exactly something that you want to get in the habit of doing. However, it was refreshing to see that as opposed to Iowa State being down 15 at one point in the game.
Headbands – Texas Tech loves these.
None – Back to our trusty old rule here at CycloneFanatic.com, which is no third down for league road wins.