AMES, IOWA -- When Iowa State’s historic and draining second-half comeback was finally complete, Naz Long and Monte Morris held a long embrace near the Cyclones’ bench before exiting toward the tunnel.
Iowa State had trailed by 21 points only to go on an unfathomable 22-0 run during a span of 5 minutes, 41 seconds to surge back. Morris had acted as a catalyst, scoring 10 of his 19 points during that span.
“We actually started seeing the ball (go) in the rim,” Morris said afterward. “Early on, we got down on ourselves and we weren’t playing Cyclone basketball … We saw a couple baskets go in and it shifted on the defensive end.”
Morris and Georges Niang combined to score 37 of their 42 points in Iowa State’s 59-point second half as the Cyclones came back. The sophomore point guard hit two critical 3s early in the run to bring the crowd to life.
During the run, Iowa State scored on eight of nine possessions, going 8-for-8 from the field while committing one turnover.
Morris finished with 19 points and five assists on 8-of-14 from the field. It marked the 20th time Morris has had five or more assists this season. More so, the performance came amidst some adversity for the youngster.
In Iowa State’s recent loss to Kansas State, Morris took two hard hits that left him sore one day before the Cyclones’ Big Monday matchup. During the run he took another hit that left his eye bloody.
"These last two games have been tough," Morris admitted.
Now, after Iowa State surged back, in part because of his late effort, Morris listened as Long spoke to him during their embrace.
“[I told him] he’s the best point guard in the country,” Long said. “I believe that, with his assist to turnover ratio. Him one on one — you can’t guard him, and he can shoot the ball. He makes such good decisions. This is what we’ve been talking about all year: Big time players make big time plays in big time moments. That’s Monte.”