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Iowa State Takes Out Miami

Cyclones’ defense leads the way to tourney final.

NCAA Basketball: Citadel at Iowa State Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

A day after nearly losing to Indiana State, Iowa State took it to Miami, winning 73-56 in the semifinals of the Advocare Invitational in Orlando. Deonte Burton led the Cyclones with 21 points and seven rebounds while Monte Morris sat most of the game with foul trouble. Not known for their defensive play, Iowa State frustrated Miami with effective help defense and pesky hands. The Hurricanes turned it over 19 times and shot just 36 percent from the field.

Iowa State came out hot, making three 3-pointers in the first three minutes of game. The long-range accuracy was a welcome sight after yesterday’s ugly performance. Miami would respond with a 16-0 run that lasted more than five minutes of play. Things looked shaky for the Cyclones when Morris was sent to the bench with his second foul, but Burton’s mix of power and touch propelled Iowa State to a six-point lead at halftime.

After a back and forth start to the second half, Iowa State finally pulled away from the Hurricanes with a 17-2 run, getting contributions from everyone in the lineup. But it was Burton’s show, which was punctuated by an off-balance three-point play off the glass. Miami looked to get back in the game with a trapping press, but the Cyclones handled the pressure while never allowing Miami to get comfortable on offense. It all added up to Iowa State’s best performance of the season and a major recovery from yesterday’s poor showing.

Quick Analysis

I don’t know if the analytics will support it, but to my eye, that was the best defensive performance I’ve seen from an Iowa State team in a long time. The defensive rotations were quick and forceful with Burton and Holden cutting off driving lanes and avoiding fouls —well, kinda.

November basketball games should be approached with caution. As awful as Iowa State looked yesterday, it would’ve been easy to expect a loss today. Instead, the Cyclones looked cohesive on offense and downright stingy on defense. The moral of the story: take early performances with a grain of salt.

Deonte Burton showcased his ability against an athletic and long Miami team. When he’s engaged, he can be the best player on the court. If Iowa State is to reach its goals as a team, it will need that version of Burton to show up more often than not.

The Cyclones got contributions from everyone that touched the floor. Merrill Holden provided an inside presence while grabbing four offensive rebounds. Nick Weiler-Babb looks like he might challenge for the Big 12 steals lead, racking up another three pilfers after five yesterday. Donovan Jackson finally got some shots to fall while taking over for Morris. Darrell Bowie continued his consistent production with 6 points and 5 rebounds. It looks like they understand their roles early, which should be expected from a lineup that includes six seniors.

Naz Mitrou-Long continues to struggle from three, going 2-9 from behind the arc. But per sual, his shots are timely, and his floor game will continue to be an asset for the Cyclones.

Matt Thomas got a technical foul for glancing at a Miami player. Matt Thomas got a technical. Let that sink in. The state of college basketball officiating is embarrasingly bad.

The Cyclones will take on the winner of Gonzaga/Florida in the Advocare Invitational championship game on Sunday. The game will tip at 12:30 CT on ESPN.