Surging Iowa State tops West Virginia for another Big 12 tourney title
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Everybody on the Iowa State bench got a snippet of net from the Big 12 Tournament.
Monte Morris got just about the whole thing.
It was only fitting the most valuable player in the Big 12 Tournament, the senior guard who kept willing the No. 23 Cyclones to victory, got to hang the net around his neck. Morris scored 17 points in the title game Saturday night to send Iowa State to an 80-74 victory over No. 11 West Virginia.
It was the third title in four years for the Cyclones. Third in four years for Morris, too.
“Monte is great. You win with great players,” said Iowa State coach Steve Prohm, who won his first title in his second season in charge. “I was very fortunate to walk into him being our point guard.”
Deonte Burton added 16 points and Matt Thomas finished with 12 for the fourth-seeded Cyclones (23-10), who will enter the NCAA Tournament as one of the nation’s hottest teams. They have won nine of their last 10 games, their only loss during that stretch coming a week ago in Morgantown.
They avenged that defeat in a big way at Sprint Center.
“Two years ago, we won this same tournament and the next week, our lives were miserable. We lost to UAB,” Morris said. “We just have to keep everyone together.”
Iowa State has never lost in four appearances in the Big 12 title game, while the Mountaineers (26-8) remain without a conference tournament title of any kind since winning the Big East in 2010.
“Everybody says it’s hard to play against us with one-day prep, but I think it’s really hard to play against them with one-day prep as well,” Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins said, “because they shoot the ball so well and spread you out so much.”
Jevon Carter had 18 points for West Virginia, which will no doubt rue its 8-for-17 shooting from the foul line. Esa Ahmad, Daxter Miles Jr. and Elijah Macon finished with 10 points apiece.
“We just have to get better,” Ahmad said. “Just got to get back in the gym.”
The No. 2-seeded Mountaineers had been a scourge for the Cyclones the past two years, winning the last four meetings in relatively easy fashion. But the hallmark of those games had been their ability to get easy baskets against an Iowa State team that doesn’t always play defense.