Fast Finish Keys ISU Blowout

Iowa State coach Wayne Morgan's slip of the tongue when he opened his post-game press conference was probably excusable given the way Monday night's 89-63 win over the University of Northern Colorado began. "I thought Belmont played well for the first 15 minutes of the game," he said, confusing the Bears with the team that beat the heavily favored Missouri Tigers a week earlier.

One could imagine a similar fate in store for the Cyclones as they fell behind by 13 points early before eventually dominating the undermanned visitors from Greeley.

UNC's Michael Frazier was on fire as the game began, hitting five three point shots as he led his team to a 23-10 margin over the Cyclones. It wasn't long before Morgan inserted seldom used walk-on guard John Neal into the lineup with the purpose of denying Frazier the ball.

"That kid can shoot as well as anybody," Morgan said of Frazier. "He really devastated us tonight."

"(Frazier) came out and was unconscious to start the game," guard Jake Sullivan said. "They run a good offense for him. They run a lot of screens."

But the Cyclones reeled off 16 unanswered points and look the lead on a layup by Jared Homan. After trading baskets, they built the lead up to seven at the half, 44-37.

UNC closed the gap to five early in the second half, but the Cyclones slowly pulled away as Homan snared eight of his 14 total rebounds, blocked shots, and hit on several lay-ups as guard Curtis Stinson continued to amaze with his flashy assists - seven total for the game.

"Jared Homan worked extremely hard tonight," Morgan said. "He missed some easy shots but he really moved down the floor and played well."

But on a night when everyone on the roster saw action, it was fitting that reserves Neal and Reggie George were singled out for praise and were rewarded with starting slots in the second half.

"I thought John and Reggie did a good job of closing out the first half and I thought I'd reward them," Morgan said as he benched Jake Sullivan and Jackson Vroman - not as a negative, but as a positive for Neal and George's defensive efforts in the first half.

"I thought John Neal gave us a lift there (last 5 minutes of first half). I also thought that Marcus Jefferson with his defense gave us a lift."

"I think it's great for John," Jake Sullivan said of the substitution. "He does such a great job on me every day in practice it makes me become a better basketball player. He deserves the time, he played extremely well in that first half. It really gave us a spark.

"He's as good a shooter as I've seen and his defense really carries him. A lot of the success I have I owe to him."

Although Northern Colorado began the game with a red hot hand, it appeared that the Cyclones might have either been flat or overconfident about the foe which is just barely into its first season in Division I-A.

"I hope we came in a little flat," Morgan said. "We're not a good enough team to be overconfident."

"They really came out with intensity in the first half, unlike us," center Homan said. Apparently, a half-time sole-searching session got the Cyclones revved up.

"This is crap, we're letting the fans down," Homan said of the half-time venting.

"Let's get out there in the second half and get at it. We were frustrated, we weren't playing hard and we weren't hitting shots in the first half - we got that corrected at half-time."

The Cyclones out rebounded the Bears 46-26 as Marcus Jefferson added seven and Jackson Vroman six to Homan's game leading 14 total. Homan's 16 points led the Cyclone attack and Frazier's 25 topped the charts for UNC followed by Bryson Gholston's 10.

Freshman guard Curtis Stinson was named the Big 12's Rookie of the Week earlier in the day and didn't disappoint, as he scored 12 points, seven assists and three steals. Stinson was also named to ESPN.com's early season rookie All-American team.

Jackson Vroman matched Homan's point total with 16, but spent a great deal of the game on the bench as he was again was in foul trouble.

Sullivan rounded out the double digit scoring for the Cyclones with 11, including three of five three pointers.

For the game, the Cyclones shot 47.9% to the visitors' 39.7%.

Now that Iowa State sports a glossy 10-2 (2-0) record, just how good are these Cyclones?

"Last spring, I thought if we could keep our team together and get our recruits to come, I thought we had a chance to have a good team," Morgan said. "It's been a lot of hard work and we have a pretty good team.

"When we're playing hard and playing together and everybody is concentrating on each other as a unit we're a pretty good team. Our margin of error is not that big, we can't beat teams if we don't do that."

Belmont proved that margin of error is indeed slim as they beat heavily favored Missouri. Morgan obviously had that game on his mind as he approached the game against Northern Colorado.

"If you come out and are not ready on a given night, you can lose," he said.

Fortunately for the Cyclones they were able to regroup after an early deficit and pull out a convincing victory against a team that came ready to play.

Next up - Colorado

"Colorado is probably the most difficult place to play in the conference," Jake Sullivan said. It's going to be a challenge. It's been a long time since we've won one (a road game) so that's our goal."

In fact, the Cyclones have lost 17 straight on the road, and probably need to pull one out to garner some national attention.

"I think we've really got a lot to prove on the road," Jared Homan said. "In my two years, we haven't won on the road and it's frustrating."

Sullivan points to one big problem on the road. "It's the Big XII," he says. "You have to play a perfect game on the road to win."

It will be interesting to watch Homan in action again against the Buffaloes' David Harrison. Homan went after Harrison two years ago when he started mouthing off to ISU coach Larry Eustachy during the game in Ames. That face-off sparked Eustachy's now famous quote about Homan acting as if "someone had stolen his cow."

Homan says he and Harrison will be fierce competitors on the court, but they have no problems after the game is over and will shake hands.

As for winning a road game, Morgan has a simple solution.

"We're going to have to do everything better," he said. "We're going to have to play better defense and shoot better."


Northern Colorado's Michael Frazier fouls Iowa State's Reggie George. (AP Photo/Chris Donahue)


Iowa State's Jackson Vroman defends against Northern Colorado's Michael Frazier, right. (AP Photo/Chris Donahue)


Northern Colorado's Trei Steward, left, defends against Iowa State's Jared Homan (51) with help from Vincent Jackson, right. Homan finished with 16 points in Iowa State's 89-63 victory. (AP Photo/Chris Donahue)


Northern Colorado's Vincent Jackson, right, blocks a shot by Iowa State's Marcus Jefferson. (AP Photo/Chris Donahue)


Jared Homan discusses his 16 point, 14 rebound, five block performance against UNC. (Photo/CI Steve)


Jake Sullivan signs for young fans. Sullivan had 11 points including three of five three point trys. (Photo/CI Steve)


Will Blalock is one of the top freshmen in the Big XII conference and is already a favorite among the young fans. Blalock had five points and five assists Monday night against UNC. (Photo/CI Steve)


Even after a rough game, post game press conference, and his post game radio show, coach Wayne Morgan finds time for some young Cyclone fans. (Photo/CI Steve)


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