WILLIAMS: Cyclones found a way

Nov 20, 2016; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones guard Monte Morris (11) plays defense against the Citadel Bulldogs at James H. Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones beat the Bulldogs 130 to 63. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

ORLANDO — Here’s the thing about “ugly wins” … They are still wins.

Iowa State shot 34.2 percent from the field – the lowest offensive mark of the Steve Prohm era – and still somehow found a way to escape with a 73-71 first round victory over a scrappy Indiana State team in Thursday’s Advocare Invitational’s opening round.

“It wasn’t pretty, but Indiana State was part of that,” Prohm said afterwards. “It was a big game for this team, as we learn this team with a lot of new guys. Free throw line hurt us a little bit at times. You come down here to learn about your team.”

Here’s what I just learned about this team: On an unprecedented day when the Cyclones dished out a measly five assists on 25 field goals (Prohm referred to his team’s first half shot selection as “awful”), Iowa State couldn’t buy an easy layup or even a free throw (the Cyclones finished 15-for-29 from the charity stripe). Iowa State had to find a clunky way to put one in the win column. Drawing four huge charges in the second half – something I’m not sure this program was capable of two or three years ago – went a long way in doing so.

“It was either that or you give up a layup,” Monte Morris, who drew two of those charges said. “I’m not going to block a shot. I have to sacrifice my body.”

Morris uncharacteristically only dished out one assist but was a bright spot on both ends of the floor on a day that lacked them. There were the two clutch charges he took while also leading the way for Iowa State with 20 points and nine rebounds.

“We made some big-time plays defensively,” Morris said. “All the defensive work we do in practice is starting to pay off.”

It was far from a perfect game defensively (especially in the first half), but the way Iowa State ended the contest showed real progress.

On this Thanksgiving Day when the good guys shot their worst mark in over two calendar years, the fact that Iowa State actually won is something I’m very thankful for.

Big day for Bowie

Iowa State doesn’t win this one without the outstanding production off of the bench from Darrell Bowie.

With Merrill Holden picking up two fouls in the first two minutes and Solomon Young listed as “doubtful” with a hand injury, Iowa State’s depth in the frontcourt was seriously lacking.

Bowie jumped in with an efficient 13 points and 11 rebounds.

“I think it was a stepping stone for my game,” Bowie said. “I came in ready off the bench to play defense.”

Bowie has now recorded double-digit rebound numbers in three of Iowa State’s four games.

Up next 

Miami outscored Stanford 44-26 in the second half to advance to the semi-finals vs. Iowa State tomorrow. The Hurricanes and Cyclones will meet on Friday at 10:00 a.m. (central) on ESPN2.