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Cyclones Bury Delta Devils in Nonconference Finale

Iowa State wins despite lethargic effort against winless Mississippi Valley State

NCAA Basketball: Drake at Iowa State Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Thomas scored a career-high 23 points, and Iowa State (8-3) beat Mississippi Valley State (0-12) 88-60 at Hilton Coliseum in the Cyclones’ final nonconference game. Iowa State hit 13-of-26 3-pointers and shot 50 percent from the field to overcome 15 turnovers. Naz Mitrou-Long added 19 points for the Cyclones.

Mitrou-Long continued his long-distance accuracy, making two 3-pointers in the opening minutes to give Iowa State an early 11-0 lead. That lead would extend to 13 before a 20-3 run by MVSU gave the Delta Devils a first-half lead. Thomas would finish the half by scoring 12 of Iowa State’s final 15 points as the Cyclones regained the lead, going to halftime with a 44-35 lead despite turning the ball over 11 times.

Iowa State struggled to shake the Delta Devils, who used their quickness and aggressive play to frustrate the heavily favored Cyclones. Iowa State would eventually pull away behind a 13-2 run midway through the second half. Backup point guard Donovan Jackson led the charge down the stretch, hitting a couple of shots from long distance and finding open teammates in the lane. Solomon Young chipped in eight points and seven rebounds off the bench. Nick Weiler-Babb played just 6 minutes after injuring his upper thigh against Drake, according to head coach Steve Prohm.

Not So Quick Analysis

  • After a poor start against Drake last Saturday, it was good to see Iowa State jump on an inferior opponent right out of the gate. The Cyclones scored the first 11 points of the game and looked focused.
  • Yeah, so about that good start. Well, maybe the Cyclones weren’t as focused as it appeared. After taking a 15-2 lead, Iowa State gave up a 20-3 run to Mississippi Valley State behind multiple turnovers and generally sloppy, careless play.
  • Most seasons, this lackluster effort could be chalked up to Winter Break, looking ahead to conference play, or just a night when everything wasn’t clicking. But after an ugly loss at Iowa and a scare against a terrible Drake team, this performance will not calm any anxieties that ISU fans have heading into conference play.
  • There were positives. The Cyclones combined for 21 assists and shot 13-for-26 from three-point territory. That’s a good recipe for a team that struggles to score inside.
  • Naz Mitrou-Long continued his resurgence, scoring 19 points on six 3-pointers. Iowa State has a lot more room for error when he’s shooting well.
  • Matt Thomas had his first breakout game of the season, scoring a career-high 23 points. Thomas did a good job of cutting to the basket for easy layups, but I wouldn’t expect that to continue in the Big 12.
  • Coach Steve Prohm told his team before the game he wanted to avoid sloppy play against a MVSU team that likes to speed up its opponents. His players failed to execute, turning the ball over 15 times. Post players Darrell Bowie, Deonte Burton and Solomon Young combined for eight of those turnovers.
  • Deonte Burton is known for his highlight-reel dunks, but I’d like to see him more consistently make the easy play. He often looks to make tough outlet passes that with a basic pass to the point guard could start a fast break. That’s not to mention the reckless dribbling against the full-court press. That might work against MVSU, but it could be a disaster against Big 12 defenses.
  • Donovan Jackson played perhaps his most complete game of the season, scoring nine points and dishing out six assists while playing 26 minutes. Jackson did a great job of getting into the lane and looking to kick out to his teammates for open 3-pointers or quick ball reversals. That action should be at the center of the Cyclone offense.
  • Iowa State gave up 13 offensive rebounds to a team that didn’t have a starter taller than 6’4”. While the four-guard lineup looks like it may be their best option on offense, ISU will have to have a better effort on the boards if it isn’t going to be exposed in the Big 12.

Next Up: vs. Texas Tech, Saturday Dec. 30 at Hilton Coliseum, 5 p.m. on ESPNNEWS