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ISU Not Perfect, Still Able to Beat Nevada in NCAAs

By Jason Van Arkel, March 17, 2017

In this six-year run of success that Iowa State basketball has enjoyed, one of the Cyclones’ most remarkable traits is how quickly they’re able to overcome playing bad stretches of basketball. That trait again proved useful on Thursday, as ISU advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with an 84-73 win over Nevada.

It wasn’t that Iowa State had to rally–the only time they ever trailed was when they were down 2-0–but after opening up a 13-point halftime lead, the Cyclones had to hold off a series of Nevada rallies. The Wolf Pack first cut the lead to five points at the 13:41 mark, and got within four at the 9:56 mark of the second half. They would close to within five once more, at the 3:04 mark.Every time Nevada got close, it was the result of Iowa State getting sloppy on offense, which led to transition opportunities for the Wolf Pack.

In each of those instances, though, ISU snapped out of it at just the right time. Monte Morris and Naz Mitrou-Long quelled the intial rally with a pair of jumpers. A driving layup by Deonte Burton and a three-pointer by Matt Thomas stopped Nevada in its tracks after they got within four. Morris would hit five free throws in a row to end the final Wolf Pack run.

Speaking of free throws, the Cyclones shot 16 of 18 from the charity stripe in the game, including 15 of 16 in the second half. Iowa State also out-rebounded Nevada 38-28, which helped offset ISU’s 13 turnovers (compared to just seven for the Wolf Pack). The Cyclones had five players in double figures, led by 19 for Morris, who also pulled down eight rebounds and dished out eight assists. Burton had 14, Mitrou-Long and Thomas each scored 13, and Donovan scored 12 off the bench as Iowa State placed five scorers in double figures.

Fifth-seeded ISU plays fourth-seeded Purdue Saturday night in Milwaukee. The Boilermakers dispatched Vermont 80-70 on Thursday. Saturday night’s game tips off at 8:40 on TBS.