Competition heats up for No. 21 Cyclones

No. 21 Iowa State is off to a 3-0 start without getting challenged. That is expected to change this week at the Advocare Invitational.

The Cyclones open tournament play Thursday against Indiana State (2-1) at the HP Field House in Orlando, Fla. The game tips off at 12:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2).

The undefeated Cyclones beat Savannah State, Mount St. Mary's and The Citadel by an average margin of 42.3 points. They waxed The Citadel 130-63 Sunday behind senior point guard Monte Morris' triple-double.

Morris finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He did not have a turnover and fueled the highest-scoring output in Cyclones history. The Citadel entered the game leading the nation in scoring, averaging 112.2 points per game, but was held to just 22 points in the first half and trailed by 40 at halftime.

Second-year Iowa State coach Steve Prohm called the win “the most complete game on both ends of the floor,” but knows the competition is getting ready to ratchet up a notch in Florida.

With a win over Indiana State, the Cyclones would face either Stanford or Miami (Fla.). The bottom half of the tournament bracket features No. 11 Gonzaga, Florida and Seton Hall.

“You never know until the next game, the next opponent,” Prohm said after The Citadel game. “(The Advocare Invitational) is great to find out where we are as a team. Win or lose, what we need to do to continue to be better, because we go down there and win three games and it's still Nov. 28.

“We still have come home to play Cincinnati and go to Iowa. And if your team's not getting better, then you're not going to stay on top of where you need to be. This will be a great test for us.”

Indiana State, after dropping a two-point decision in overtime at Northern Illinois, bounced back with wins over Ball State and Division II Missouri-St. Louis. Sycamores coach Greg Lansing, an Iowa native, is in his seventh season at Indiana State.

Junior guard Brenton Scott is averaging 22.3 points, tops in the Missouri Valley Conference. Senior guard Everett Clemons leads the Missouri Valley in assists at 6.3 per game and is tied for second in rebounding at 8.3 per game.

The Sycamores were pegged to finish in the middle of the pack in the conference, but they have Prohm's respect.

“I'm very familiar with Indiana State, have played them several times, scrimmaged them several times,” Prohm said. “Greg does a really good job. But our guys will be ready. It will be good to go (to Florida). These preseason tournaments are really a lot of fun.”

The Sycamore took care of Missouri-St. Louis efficiently, racing out to a 50-22 lead at halftime and cruising to a 96-55 win.

“That was really important for us to send us off, going to Orlando in a national tournament this week,” Lansing said.

Indiana State has lost eight consecutive games to ranked teams, a stretch that dates back to Nov. 17, 2013, when the Sycamores upset of then-No. 21 Notre Dame.