Second-half Cyclones too much for TCU in regular season finale

 Naz Long drove and delivered. Jameel McKay leaped toward the sky. Georges Niang twisted, turned and scored.

 Essentially, once No. 17 Iowa State finally got rolling — up and down the lineup — Saturday at TCU, it couldn’t be stopped.

 The Cyclones (22-8, 12-6) shook off a shaky start and bulldozed their way to a 89-76 Big 12 regular season-closing triumph, locking up the No. 2 seed in next week’s Big 12 Tournament in the process.

 “Just dribble drive offense,” point guard Monté Morris said on the Cyclone Radio Network postgame show. “It’s big time for Georges, because he creates a lot of mismatches and when they help off other guys, we’re just going to be ready to make shots.”

 No doubt. 

 Niang and Morris led ISU with 19 points apiece. Bryce Dejean-Jones added 15 points off the bench. McKay notched his fourth double-double, with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

 “That second half, I thought we were phenomenal,” Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg said. “Offensively, getting that thing going; played with great pace. Got Jameel to the rim a lot better. Got our wings out wide and running. We just took off.”

 The fuse was lit. 

ISU exploded for 63 second-half points, turning a six-point halftime deficit into a dominant double-digit win to close the regular season.

 A second half team? Right now, that’s exactly what ISU is.

 After consecutive sub-34 point second halves in losses to Baylor and Kansas State, the Cyclones outscored No. 15 Oklahoma 59-33 after the break in Monday’s miracle comeback from 21 points down.

 Couple that with Saturday’s scoring outburst in the final 20 minutes and ISU has totaled 122 points in the past two games after regrouping at halftime. 

 The Cyclones shot a blazing 71 percent in the second half Saturday and turned the ball over just once after coughing it up eight times while falling behind by as many as 10 points early on.

 “We started getting stops and it led to transition buckets,"said Dejean-Jones, who emerged as a particularly bright spot after back-to-back scoreless efforts. "We just got hot.”

 The senior from Los Angeles scored his 15 points on 3 of 3 field goal shooting and a 7-for-10 performance from the line. He hit the only two 3-pointers he attempted, adding five rebounds and three assists in 24 minutes.

 “I knew Bryce was due for a good night,” said Morris, who has shot 50 percent or better in the last five games while dealing out five or more assists four times in that span.

 Hoiberg knew it, too. Dejean-Jones played a combined 20 minutes in the previous two games and didn’t leave the bench in the second half of Monday’s big comeback.

 “He needed it,” Hoiberg said of Saturday’s performance. “He and I have had a couple really good days getting back in the gym. I ran the heck out of him (Friday), and really got his legs going.”

 Now the Cyclones get going on developing a plan to repeat as Big 12 Tournament champions at the Sprint Center in Kansas City — a feat they’ve never accomplished.

 “It’s a great tournament environment,” Morris said. “It’s a neutral site. You’re going to get everybody’s best shot, people playing for (NCAA) Tournament seed and so forth. It’s going to be tough.”


Rob Gray


Rob, an Ames native, joined Cyclone Fanatic in August, 2014 after nearly a decade and a half of working at Iowa's two largest newspapers. He spent 10 years at the Des Moines Register and, after a brief stint in public relations, joined the Cedar Rapids Gazette as an Iowa State correspondent three years ago. Rob specializes in feature stories for CF.