ISU 'Zones' in on Cyclone Classic Title

Iowa State's Jake Sullivan usually feasts on zone defenses, so it didn't faze him much when he started Saturday night's game against Idaho State missing five shots. The shots would soon start falling for the senior guard, and as a result, ISU got off and running in a 73-47 victory in the championship game of the Cyclone Challenge.

Sullivan scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half, but it was ISU's inside tandem of Jackson Vroman and Jared Homan who held the Bengals at bay after a five-minute scoring drought midway through the opening session.

"That happens," said Sullivan, referring to his slump to start play. "Individually, that's part of being a shooter. You never want to start a game 0-for-5, but it happens. You keep shooting and they start going in. That's the whole key to the game. When you have great players around you, they can pick it up until you get it going."

Eventually, the novelty of Idaho State's defense wore off as well. A nine-player rotation used by ISU head coach Wayne Morgan helped to wear down his opponent.

"We kept coaching the offense, telling them where we wanted the ball and what we wanted to accomplish," he said. "We kept diagramming stuff and showing them stuff we'd been practicing. Then we started getting it done. Also, midway through the second half some of their guys got tired.

"Our depth definitely helped us, and the fact that we're able to put fresh bodies in that continue to play at a fairly efficient level. They got tired. There was a time when we were able to get the ball down the floor three or four times and we were getting layups."

After leading by 11 points at halftime, the Cyclones used a 20-4 run early in the second half to open up a 53-28 lead with 12:26 left to play. Idaho State, meanwhile, one of its 12 shots during the decisive run.

"We got it inside a little bit better and started hitting some jump shots," Sullivan said. "That's always a good thing. Our defense made a difference, too. We created some turnovers, got out in transition, got some energy going and got some easy buckets."

ISU point guard Will Blalock also served as a zone breaker with his penetration ability. Although he would score just nine points on 3-of-8 shooting, the freshman got inside the zone and dished out three assists to go along with nine rebounds.

"You're not going to break the zone by throwing it around the perimeter," said Vroman. "They're used to that and see it every day. You've got to get it to the short corner, mid post or penetrate with the dribble."

After not rebounding the ball well in each of their first two regular season games, the Cyclones improved mightily this weekend. They followed up last night's nine-board advantage with a 50-36 edge Saturday night. Vroman and Homan combined for 14 of those rebounds, but even more impressive was that 10 different ISU players grabbed at least one on the night.

Marquis Poole led Idaho State with 13 points, but struggled to get many looks during a Cyclone breakaway, courtesy of some tight defensive work from ISU reserve John Neal.

"In the first half, Poole's penetration hurt us," Morgan said. "In the second half we stopped that. In our scouting, he didn't go left much and we forced him to go that way. We made adjustments and played him straight."

The Cyclones improved to 4-0 with wins over Idaho State and IPFW this weekend, and will now get seven days to prepare for Liberty.

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