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Cyclones Disappear After Strong Start, Get Throttled at Vandy

Vanderbilt hits 13 3-pointers to topple the flat-footed Cyclones, 84-78

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Vanderbilt used 13 3-pointers and survived a late run from Iowa State to win 84-78 in Nashville as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. The Cyclones were led by senior Monte Morris, who tallied a game-high 25 points while becoming Iowa State’s all-time leader in assists. Morris had three assists and now has 666 in his career, passing Jeff Hornacek.

After Vanderbilt started with an 8-2 lead, Iowa State turned up the pressure on defense while also flashing their offensive potential. The lead would eventually get to 11 before Vanderbilt head coach Bryce Drew switched to a zone in an effort to get the Cyclones out of rhythm. The changeup worked, even if only for a possession. The Iowa State offense stalled, and the Commodores hit some tough shots to even up the score at 33 going into the half.

Vanderbilt pounced on Iowa State at the beginning of the second half, extending their lead to seven at 42-35. The lead would balloon to 14 as Vanderbilt’s Nolan Cressler and Matthew Fisher-Davis got hot from outside.

The Cyclones had a chance to cut the lead to one possession, but a late three-on-one fast break resulted in a forced shot by Morris when it looked like they could have got layup. The two teams traded free throws in the last 30 seconds, and Vanderbilt finished off the Cyclones. Deonte Burton had 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, but 21 points from Luke Cornet was too much to overcome.

Quick Analysis

  • It’s too bad Morris’ assist record had to come on the road in such a forgettable game. He’s arguably the best point guard in program history, and his performance will be largely forgotten. This wasn’t a meaningless record either, as Hornacek’s total stood for more than 30 years.
  • The Cyclones started strong again, jumping out to an 11-point lead midway through the first half. The help defense was flawless, much like it was in the first half against Kansas State. Steve Prohm has to find a way to get his guys to play with that focus and attention to detail for more than 10 minutes.
  • Vanderbilt is known for the three-pointer, and it worked for them today. Where Iowa State was hedging and recovering initially, Vanderbilt was able to create enough separation later in the game to get open threes, which they cashed in on. Once again, execution and attention to detail have to be better for the Cyclones.
  • The rotation is still a daily mystery, and I expect that to remain. The Cyclones don’t have the personnel to force the other team’s hand, and that’s going to be a problem.
  • The Cyclones had plenty of open looks, but they couldn’t get enough shots to fall, including four three-pointers that went halfway down before popping out. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt hit shot after shot from deep, including some contested jumpers during its crucial run. That’s the way it goes on the road.
  • Morris was fantastic on both ends and seemed to be the only guy on the court in cardinal with any sense of urgency. Burton did have his moments, but Iowa State never found that spark to get them over the hump.
  • Donovan Jackson continues to show his potential and value off the bench, scoring 16 points and providing solid defense.
  • Iowa State is still in the tournament field right now, but a loss to a bottom-half SEC team gives them even less room for error. The nonconference was a huge disappointment, and they will now have to finish strong to make sure they aren’t sweating on Selection Sunday.
  • Considering how Vanderbilt handled pressure late, it would have been nice to see Prohm go to the press sooner. Iowa State wasn’t getting the runouts and easy buckets that it’s been getting all season, and Vanderbilt was just coming off a late-game debacle where it struggled with pressure.