Iowa State Basketball: Cyclones down Mount St Mary’s

Iowa State basketball hosted a scrappy Mount St Mary’s squad Monday evening.

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Iowa State basketball doesn’t have many marquee names on their non-conference schedule this year, but Mount St Mary’s from the Northeast Conference is known as a scrappy team. MSM has been one of the best defensive teams in the NEC the past few years.

They would use that tenacity to pester ISU for much of Monday night.

The game clearly went Iowa State’s way, but there are some interesting things to unpack in ISU’s win.

Early on the Cyclones were shooting 46 percent, but just 18 percent from deep. That sort of outside shooting won’t cut it for a squad that has been among the nation’s best three-point shooting teams.

They also had some foul trouble that hurt their forward depth. Merrill Holden played fewer than 10 minutes after collecting his fourth foul early in the second half. ISU has much more depth at forward compared to last year, but Holden needs to clean his play up a bit if he wants to fulfill his projected role this season.

The Cyclones let MSM hang around at different times, but their defensive pressure was too much for the undersized NEC squad. Iowa State stole the ball five times, with two players getting two each.

They also held the Mountaineers to under 25 percent shooting in the first half and only let their opponents shoot 27 percent for the game. Steve Prohm’s focus on consistently stopping opponents is starting to pay dividends early, but more difficult opponents will test their total progress.

Monte Morris led the Cyclones in scoring with 18 points, along with three rebounds and three assists. Three other players reached double figures with Matt Thomas at 13, and Deonte Burton and Nick Weiler-Babb with 10 each.

Weiler-Babb continued to impress off the bench with five rebounds and two assists in addition to his scoring. He contributed several times on defense, helping ISU get some easy buckets in transition. His length and versatility is a tremendous asset for this year’s campaign.

For Mount St Mary’s, sophomore guard Eli Long, brother of ISU’s Naz Mitrou-Long, paced his team with 19 points, but didn’t get much help. Forward Mawdo Sallah collected 14 rebounds to lead all players.

Iowa State takes on the Citadel from the Southern Conference next. The Bulldogs are 1-1 after games against the College of Charleston and Johnson University [FL]. They boast the nation’s highest adjusted tempo, so this could be a track meet.

The Mountaineers will stay on the road and travel to Minnesota to take on an improving Gophers squad. Minnesota is 2-0 after an impressive victory over Sun Belt favorite Texas-Arlington.

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