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Cyclones Close Out Cowboys on Senior Night

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Senior stars shine in 86-83 win over red-hot Oklahoma State

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

Iowa State (20-9) won its sixth-straight Big 12 game, 86-83, over Oklahoma State (20-10) on a memorable Senior Night for seven Cyclones. Iowa State used clutch free throw shooting and a late steal from Monte Morris to seal the win despite a late run from the Cowboys.

Senior Matt Thomas tied a career high with 25 points, including seven 3-pointers on 11 attempts. His hot shooting got the Cyclones off to a solid start, with his fourth of the night extending the Cyclone lead to eight midway through the first half.

Oklahoma State would respond with a run of their own, grabbing a four-point lead after seven-straight field goals without a miss. Senior Naz Mitrou-Long then found his rhythm for Iowa State, hitting two 3-pointers late in the half to secure a 40-39 lead heading to halftime.

Much like the second half against Baylor last Saturday, the Cyclones trailed by 6 early against the Cowboys. And much like the Baylor game, Iowa State responded with a quick-hitting run to retake the lead. Thomas led the way with two threes during the run.

The Cyclone lead extended to 10 on separate occasions only to see Oklahoma State jump right back in the game minutes later. Burton converted a three-point play to make it 74-64 with just four minutes to play. That’s when Oklahoma State stud point guard, Jawun Evans took over, hitting a couple of three-pointers and three free throws to cut the lead to 1 with 13 seconds left.

Mitrou-Long continued his Cowboy-killing ways, draining two free throws with 8 seconds remaining to give the Cyclones a three-point lead. With the Cowboys looking to tie the game with a three, Morris made the defining play of the game — nearly stealing the inbounds pass before forcing a turnover when the inbounds passer illegally touched the ball. Morris then found Thomas for a wide-open layup to effectively seal the game.

Morris, despite a rough shooting night from the field, finished his final game at Hilton Coliseum with a quintessential Morris stat line: 12 points, 9 rebounds, 11 assists, 4 steals, 2 blocks and 1 turnover while playing all 40 minutes. Morris also became the all-time steals leader at Iowa State, breaking Jeff Hornacek’s record just weeks after also beating Hornacek’s assist record.

Quick Analysis

  • Thomas knocking down two early 3-pointers was huge for a team that was dealing with an emotional night. It had to be nice for everyone to see those go down early.
  • Iowa State’s offense continues to thrive as the Cyclones knocked down 15 3-pointers on 31 attempts. The most encouraging parts of the improved offense are the consistency and balance. Iowa State is getting open looks for its best shooters, and they’re knocking them down.
  • It’s not often you see seven seniors on a college basketball team these days. It’s even rarer to see four (five, if you want to include a solid performance from Darrell Bowie) seniors stand out on Senior Night. Morris nearly had a triple-double, Thomas tied his career high, Mitrou-Long continued his clutch play against the Cowboys, and Burton had a few brilliant moments late in the second half to secure the win.
  • Lost in the Senior Night celebration is the fact that Iowa State swept another good team. Oklahoma State is a quality squad with high-end talent in Evans, experience and toughness in Forte, and a host of role players that are fully capable of chipping in. That’s not to mention an All-Big 12 performer in Jeffrey Carroll, who never found his footing in this game. So while we celebrate the careers of the ISU seniors, let’s not forget that the Cyclones may have just improved its seeding in the Big Dance.
  • Solomon Young was out of sorts tonight, but that should be expected from the true freshman. Young struggled to match up with Oklahoma State’s skilled big men, and he showed a hesitancy that cost him a few possessions. He will have better days.
  • Bowie should be commended for his solid contributions after being benched in the middle of the conference season. Bowie’s activity has been an asset for the Cyclones during some crucial runs.

Next up: at West Virginia, 6 p.m. CT Friday, ESPN