Cyclones overcome sloppy performance, improve to 9-0


Lani Tons/Iowa State Daily

Jameel McKay, redshirt senior forward, jumps to dunk the basketball at the game against University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Hilton Coliseum on Dec. 13.

Chris Wolff

Arkansas-Pine Bluff (2-8, 0-0 SWAC) is statistically one of the worst teams in Division I basketball with an offense that ranks 349th out of 351 teams and a defense that comes in at 290th.

No. 4 Iowa State (9-0) was coming off an emotional comeback win against an in-state rival, was missing a starter in Naz Mitrou-Long and was playing on the Sunday evening before finals week.

Whatever the reason, Iowa State came out sloppy and sluggish against a team they should have throttled right from the opening whistle.

At the under-12 media timeout, the Cyclones led 18-13. Iowa State was 4-for-4 from 3-point range and ISU point guard Monté Morris had four assists by himself. All this points to a solid offensive performance, except the Cyclones were severely hampered by six turnovers.

That would remain the case for most of the first half, where Iowa State built up a 39-30 lead at the half. The Cyclones shot 45.5 percent from the field and hit 50 percent from deep, but racked up nine turnovers.

The Iowa State offense showed signs of life in the second half, and the Cyclones were able to cut down on their turnovers, but the defense struggled.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff made a living off of easy backdoor cuts and quick give-and-goes that routinely caught Iowa State off guard.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff surpassed its season scoring average and was down by just nine points with a little more than nine minutes left in the game.

Iowa State began to stretch its lead out in the final six minutes with a Matt Thomas jumper, a fast break dunk from Jameel McKay and a George Niang spin move that took the lead to 17 points.

Iowa State able to keep Arkansas-Pine Bluff at a comfortable distance for the remainder of the contest, going on to win 78-64 and improve to 9-0 on the season.

The Cyclones will travel to Des Moines on Saturday to play Northern Iowa in the Big 4 Classic.