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Basketball

GRAY: What Monté Morris focused on to achieve his first triple-double

 Monté Morris scores two of his 17 points in Sunday’s 130-63 rout of The Citadel at Hilton Coliseum. Morris added 10 assists and 10 rebounds to record the fifth triple-double in program history. Photo courtesy Luke Lu/ISU Athletics Communications)

AMES — Points and assists?

Those come fairly easily for Iowa State’s preseason All-American point guard Monté Morris.

But boards? Not so much.

So when the Cyclones’ star senior point guard was told Sunday by team managers that he stood two points, two rebounds and five assists away from becoming the fifth player in school history to achieve a triple-double, Morris knew where to apply his primary focus: The glass.

“I put that in perspective, because it’s hard for me to get that many rebounds, because guys put an emphasis on rebounding,” said Morris, who racked up 17 points, pulled down the needed 10 rebounds and doled out 10 assists in ISU’s record-breaking 130-63 squashing of The Citadel at Hilton Coliseum. “So when I had eight (boards) I knew the other two statistics that I can do pretty well (in) would take care of itself. So I was just focused on rebounding.”

Turns out his teammates were, too.

On a couple of occasions, Naz Mitrou-Long — who matched a career-high with 26 points — just might have given up a board on Morris’s behalf.

“Congrats to Monté,” ISU coach Steve Prohm said. “Naz game him a couple rebounds to help him out, but a really good job.”

All for one, when it comes to triple-doubles, right? Chances for one don’t roll around every day — regardless of the opponent.

“We just tried to get him those rebounds and assists,” said fellow guard Matt Thomas, who scored  14 of his 18 points within the game’s first 5:09. “Actually one time Naz pretty much had a rebound and kind of just shuffle-passed it over and then proceeded to yell at the scorer’s table and tell them it was Monte’s rebound. That just shows how selfless Naz is.”

Morris notched his 68th career double-digit scoring effort and 13th career 10 (or more) assists performance.

The 10 rebounds were a career high — and he said it stemmed from renewed vigor on the defensive end.

“My defense has been bad as of late,” said Morris, who also moved into sixth all-time in steals with 178. “Coaches have been on me and our team, so I just made an effort to stay eyed up as always and stay focused… I was able to stay around the rim because I was eyed up. I was able to get a few — well, a lot of defensive rebounds. I didn’t get an offensive rebound, but I think it started on the defensive end and my guys made shots tonight. I just got the ball to them.”

Morris joins Royce White (2012); Curtis Stinson (2006); Jamaal Tinsley (2000); and Marc Urqhart (1989) on ISU’s rarely-reached triple-doubles list.

ISU dished out 31 assists — with four players delivering four or more each.

Even big man Darrell Bowie, who posted a duouble-double, contributed four. But did one find Morris’s hands?

“I hope so,” Bowie said with a smile — and indeed one of them did. “Monté’s a bad man.”

 NAZ REIGNITES

Mitrou-Long entered Sunday’s game shooting 40 percent from the field through two games after coming off a medical redshirt year. He drained 11 of 19 from the field against the Bulldogs — and doubled his season scoring average with his career high-tying 26 points.

“It was good,” ISU coach Steve Prohm said of Mitrou-Long’s That Mount St. Mary’s game, I met with him the day after. He kind of was away form the facility the next day because his family was still in town, bt then we met the next day because there was a lot of things going on with (that) game and he was pressing a little bit and didn’t play extremely well. We need him to be very good. And Neil mentioned to me, ‘Hey, maybe run something for him at the beginning of the half, just to get him going.’ We got him a great look, he missed it, but then I said something to Monté about getting him going a little bit and he did that and then he came back and hit a transition three or some action.”

ETC.

Morris is now 24th at ISU in career points with 1,189. … ISU’s previous record single-game points total was 129. It came in a Nov. 24, 1989 win over Northeastern Illinois. The Cyclones’ 62 first-half points were the most since the dropped 93 on Hawaii-Hilo on Nov. 26, 1999. … The Citadel shot just 17.5 percent in the first half and 27.3 percent overall.

R

Rob Gray

administrator

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.

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