The Iowa State Cyclones came back from a 20-point first half deficit against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Thursday night, and the world collectively witnessed Steve Prohm implementing all of sports’ greatest tropes to remain unbeaten.
In a first 20 minutes, which saw Iowa’s Jarrod Uthoff score 30 points, it wasn’t that the Hawkeyes wanted it more early. It was simpler than that. Iowa State simply had no answer for Uthoff. With today likely to feature talk about the Cyclones’ resolve, will to win and the plethora of other tired clichés which turns sports into some morality play, it was a halftime adjustment which helped Iowa State climb back from what seemed like an unrealistic hole to climb out of.
Really, it wasn’t only a change in Iowa State’s defense, either. Uthoff cooled down. It happens. Players are often hot for periods of games, then merely come back down to Earth after their rhythm is interrupted by a lengthy break in play.
A grand meaning today doesn’t need to be conjured today.
None of that is actually all that important. In the grand scheme of things, for both teams, it was only one game. That said, the result does continue to enhance the projections we should have for the Cyclones, while highlighting some of the team’s incredible strengths.
Naturally, everything should start with Monte Morris. We have reached the point in his career when we should be stomping our feet to make sure he gets more attention. While I’ve mentioned it to the point of nausea, much of Morris’ talents are overshadowed by his nationally more prominent teammate, Georges Niang.
For the season, Morris is averaging 15.5 points, 7.5 assists, and 2 steals per game. That alone does not begin to do the senior justice, as he has been an extension of Prohm on the court, as well as dictating the pace of games — often times against opponents’ will.
Thursday night’s game was no different. After a 30-11 run brought the Cyclones all the way back to being only down one single point with 51 seconds left, Morris drove to the lane to hit a floater to give Iowa State the lead. After that, it was a defensive-stop later and Morris helped to propel one of the season’s biggest come-from-behind victories.
More importantly than that, Morris helped install some sort of check-valve on their turnovers, which plagued them in the first half. Already a team that turns the ball over a bit too much, Iowa State coughed up the basketball 10 times in the first 16 minutes alone.
However, after whatever Prohm and team discussed at halftime was implemented, the Cyclones only turned the ball over three more times the entire game. It is those turnovers which have plagued them all season, and put them in such a huge hole on Thursday, but if it is something they could put an end to, there are few other (as glaring) flaws that would keep them from being as good as any team — including Kansas — in the Big 12.
Niang was also himself. It is part of the reason why he’s the player usually given the most love from those on the outside. Really, as per Niang rules, it was another efficient outing for the senior, as he scored 16 points on 50 percent shooting from the floor. He also contributed in other areas, with 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks.
It is also certainly worth noting that junior Matt Thomas played well above his means. Having never averaged double-figures during his career, Thomas scored 19 points on 60 percent shooting. Along with running mate Jameel McKay’s 20, Iowa State obviously needed every single point they could muster to make the comeback.
Iowa State truly came out in the second-half and looked like the time of team who would have words like “resolve” and “grit” hurled at them today.
Those aren’t adjectives — though, mostly unimportant ones — that have been associated with any Iowa State club in some time. Who knows if that has anything to do with Steve Prohm, or the players, or if it was merely one game of craziness, but they are 8-0 today for a reason and it can’t solely be assigned to luck. Other, intangible qualities must be present on this squad as well.
The type of qualities which might help them dethrone the mighty Jayhawks in the Big 12.