ISU's Morris takes pride in strong defensive game

Freshman point guard comes up with three steals, holds KSU's Spradling to three points

Published: March 13 2014 | 5:54 pm - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 9:34 am in

AMES — Iowa State freshman guard Monte Morris fashioned a 6.9-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio during the Big 12’s regular season.

And that’s nothing — based on the 18-year-old’s one-game postseason resume.

Morris rattled off a team conference tournament-record 10 assists to just one turnover in Thursday’s frantic 91-85 Big 12 Championship quarterfinal win over Kansas State, but that’s not even what he was most proud of after the game.

Think defense.

Morris poked away a game-high three steals while helping hold the Wildcats’ Will Spradling to three points, less than half his average.

“Assists, they’re going to come,” Morris said. “Points are going to come from everybody on the team, but we know if we get stops and get out in transition we’ll be that much better. So my defense, I’m going to try to put an emphasis on that all the way through the tournament.”

It’s been an unsung part of his game throughout the season.

“As a freshman, to come in here in his first Big 12 (tournament) game, that shows you the poise that he plays with.”

Morris hoped the next step would include a third meeting with Kansas, which handed the Cyclones two of their seven regular-season losses.

“We lost to to them, so why not?” Morris said when asked about his preference before the 10 time-defending regular season conference champion Jayhawks outlasted Oklahoma State 77-70 in overtime. “Let’s try to beat them.”

HOT HANDS: Kansas State shot a sizzling 54.5 percent and scored a conference season high-tying 85 points.

“And you still can’t win,” Wildcats coach Bruce Weber said.

That’s partly because ISU shot a torrid 60.7 percent in the second half.

“Offensively, it was a very fun game,” Hoiberg said.

PURPLE HAZED: Iowa State’s Melvin Ejim scored 20 points in the first meeting with Kansas State, 30 in the second and 24 in Thursday’s win. To think he started the game 0-for-6 from the field. …

“He could have had a 30-point game,” Hoiberg said.

WWWHAT?: The Cyclones’ Georges Niang said Monday he expected “bar fight”-level intensity from Kansas State. What did he get?

“You ever heard of WWE?” Niang said. “I feel like I just got out of a cage match.”

TEXT ALERT: ISU’s Dustin Hogue played his best game against a Big 12 team Thursday, then heard about it form his brother. Actually, he read about it first — takes those words to heart. Hogue’s brother, Douglas, played in the NFL for Carolina and Detroit. “He gives me a little pep talk,” Hogue said.

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