AMES — Bryce Dejean-Jones set his sights, leaped and smoothly, yet emphatically swatted the ill-fated shot away.
The ball sailed about 15 feet from the hoop and the high-scoring Iowa State guard/forward calmly watched its flight.
It was about the only time Dejean-Jones wasn’t fully active Tuesday against outmanned Lamar.
The No. 20 Cyclones cruised, 96-59, as the UNLV transfer stocked the stat sheet with 12 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Oh, and four steals — along with that block with 10:20 remaining.
“I was just out there playing with the team,” Dejean-Jones said with a shrug.
That went for everybody, who finally regained a rhythm that No. 21 Maryland disrupted in last week’s 72-63 loss in Kansas City.The Cyclones shot 29.7 percent in that game, so couldn’t wait to retake the court after a week of practice.
“Three years, it felt like,” forward Georges Niang said of the layoff. “We were just champing at the bit to beat up on someone other than your teammate.”
Maybe too much.
Early on, last week’s shooting woes bled into this week as ISU converted just 7 of its first 24 field goal attempts, including a 2-for-14 start from 3-point range.
But stern defense fueled a 21-2 onslaught that turned a 20-17 deficit into a 38-22 halftime advantage.
The Cyclones (4-1) poked away five of their 16 steals in that span, including two from point guard Monte Morris, who collected a game-high five of them.
“I took it upon myself to go out and get two stops and speed them up a little bit and I feel like that’s when we got rolling,” said Morris, who added eight points, six assists and two blocked shots. “I feel like we sometimes let teams attack us and we don’t attack them, but Thursday (against No. 18 Arkansas), coach (Fred Hoiberg) said he wants me out pressuring more, so I’m going to do that.”
Matt Thomas led ISU with 14 points, including 4 of 7 shooting from beyond the arc. His first 3-pointer came during the late first-half run that essentially sealed the blowout win by halftime.
“It’s great to see Matt not hesitate out there, to go out and shoot the ball with confidence,” said Hoiberg, whose team’s 16 steals were its most in a game since 2005. “He’s a guy that on the break when we’re getting pressed can hopefully knock down some shots to relieve a little bit of that pressure. He and Naz (Long), when they get down in those corners and we break down the defense, there’s a pretty good chance those shots are going in.”
Long — one of five Cyclones in double figures with 12 points drilled all four of his 3-point attempts in the second half after missing all three in the first. Niang chipped in 13 points and backup big man Daniel Edozie added 10 points and seven rebounds in 14 minutes.
“(He) just continues to go out there and do his job,” Hoiberg said of Edozie. “And that’s a good thing.”
Also good: ISU’s 26 assists on 36 field goals — along with 69 percent shooting in the second half and outscoring the Cardinals (2-5) 44-6 off turnovers.
“It was fun,” Hoiberg said. “The guys were out there pointing at each other, just playing together.”
As for Dejean-Jones, rebounding and defense became immediate focal points once he stepped on campus in Ames. He’s now averaging 7.3 boards after managing 3.7 per game last season with the Runnin’ Rebels.
“I told him before the year that’s embarrassing,” Hoiberg said of last year’s number. “He’s got to double that for us to have a good year. … Right now with him basically playing the three he’s got to be that guy to go out and get us eight rebounds per game.”
Dejean-Jones has accepted that challenge eagerly and aims to keep meeting it.
“It’s just something I’ve become accustomed to doing,” he said with a smile. “I’ve kind of started liking it, just getting in here and trying to get every rebound.”
Niang, a junior, moved up to 26th on the all-time scoring chart with 1,080 points. He passed Rahshon Clark and Will Blalock. … Greek freshman Georgios Tsalmpouris hit his first 3-pointer as a Cyclone. … Morris soared for his first career dunk. … Edozie’s 10 points were a career-high. … Lamar outrebounded the Cyclones 39-33, but coughed up 27 turnovers. … ISU won its 23rd consecutive regular season nonconference game at Hilton, which is the third-longest streak in program history.