MANHATTAN, Kansas -- After losing three out of their last four games, including to Texas in overtime on Tuesday, the Cyclones needed a victory.
On Saturday afternoon, No. 17 Iowa State (13-4, 2-3) was able to do just that and defeated Kansas State (11-6, 1-4) in Manhattan, 76-63. The Cyclones led for almost the entire game, which featured balanced scoring and improved defensive play from Steve Prohm's squad.
“Great job, I’m really proud of these guys, coming on the road and winning in double figures against a good team, a team that’s only lost one home game,” Prohm told Cyclones.TV. “It was terrific. Our backs were against the wall and to get a split this week, obviously we’d love to win them all, but glad to get back in the win column."
Monte Morris had a team-high 19 points, four assists and four rebounds, while Abdel Nader put in 14 points of his own. Both players shot a very effective 6-for-9 from the field.
With 9:35 remaining in the game, Kansas State pulled within five points to make the score 50-45. However, Georges Niang, who was named to the Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 List on Wednesday, quickly responded with a three-pointer and Jameel McKay put in an emphatic alley-oop from Morris to settle things back down.
Kansas State would not get closer than five points the rest of the day, in part because of effective zone defense from Prohm.
“I thought we controlled temp offensively and our shot selection was better,” Prohm told Cyclones.TV. “Our zone was really good for us, the last two days we spent a lot of time working on it.”
Niang struggled a little with his shot, going 6-for-15 from the field, but seemingly every time the Wildcats were on the verge of making this game interesting, the dependable forward stepped up.
The Cyclones initially jumped out to an early lead in the first half to quiet the Kansas State crowd. They showed stronger defensive energy compared to previous outings as they forced nine turnovers and held a 32-23 advantage at the break.
Guard Hallice Cooke was suspended for this game due to violation of team rules.
Iowa State will be back on the court Monday when they face No. 2 Oklahoma in Ames. The Cyclones will look to even the season series after the Sooners beat Iowa State on Jan. 3 in their Big 12 opener.