Fast Start Leads to Cyclone Blowout

<b>KANSAS CITY, MO --</b> Any fear of an Iowa State letdown against 12th-seeded Baylor was eased from the start Thursday afternoon at Kemper Arena. The Cyclones scored 21 of the game's first 22 points and cruised to a 77-57 victory in the opening round of the Big 12 Tournament.

Iowa State's Rahshon Clark and Curtis Stinson each knocked down a pair of 3-pointers during the surge. Meanwhile, the Bears were held without a field goal until the 12:20 mark. By then it was too late. The Cyclones were off and running.

"When we got up 17-0, I think it was more about us coming out determined wanting to win this game," said ISU's Jared Homan. "I think Baylor might have been a little surprised. We were more determined tonight and worked well as a team to get them out of the game early, so they wouldn't have a chance to win."

By improving to 18-10 overall, five-seed ISU earned a spot in the quarterfinals against Texas Tech. Morgan's team blew out the Red Raiders, 81-68, on Feb. 12 in Ames. It also could have been the game that officially pushed them into the NCAA Tournament.

But first thing's first, and that's Bobby Knight's Tech squad.

"We hope we've done enough to get into that tournament, but right now we're in this tournament," Morgan said. "We've got to concentrate on this one. We're not in a position to make the other decisions or know what's going on, so the best way that we can help ourselves is by playing well in this tournament." The Cyclones are certainly going into Friday's game on an emotional high.

After back-to-back losses to Nebraska and Texas A&M ended a seven-game winning streak, they have not won three consecutive games.

"They'll be ready to play," Homan said of the Red Raiders. "They've had a couple days off, so they'll be rested. We just played. I wouldn't say we're tired, but I think we got a little game-time experience and hopefully we're sharper. We've got to build on that win we had against Texas Tech at home, look at the film, and try to do the same things."

Clark can only hope to have the same success against Texas Tech that he's had against another team from the Lone Star State.

The freshman forward put up one of his best performances of the season, hitting 8-of-11 shots from the field and scoring 20 points. His previous season-best was 19 points against the Bears in Hilton Coliseum last month.

"I came into the game with the mindset that I was going to make every single shot that I took," Clark said. "It was a very big shot and it got me and my team ready. That's when we put the pressure on and doing what we needed to do.

"Hitting shots builds up your confidence, so that you start playing harder and doing extra things. You start doing big things and that's what happened today."

ISU, which hit 10 of its first 13 shots from the field, shot a sizzling 67 percent in the first half. They also nailed a season-best 5-of-7 from beyond the 3-point arc.

Meanwhile, Baylor missed its first seven shots over the first 7:40.

"Our offense helped our defense and our defense helped our offense," Morgan said. "We shot the ball well, which got us into our press. Getting into our press enables us to get some steals early. Both helped the other."

The Cyclones put the game totally out of reach midway through the second half 10-1 run. Damion Staple's 3-point play capped the run and gave his team a 62-34 lead with 9:16 to play.

After a hot-shooting first half, the main focus for Morgan's squad was to keep its focus and not let Baylor back into contention.

"One of the things we've had to do in terms of growing as a team is sustaining your level of play and intensity even when you do get a big lead. We're looking to maintain our intensity throughout, because it's critical not to let that drop off. Whether it's defensive or offensive execution, you want to accomplish the things that are within the framework of your game plan."

Staple and Homan dominated in the post, combining for 27 points and 20 rebounds. Staple posted a double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds) in 27 minutes of action.

Although Cyclone fans probably would have liked for Morgan to start substituting earlier in the second half, the seven-man rotation got the necessary rest to prepare for tomorrow game. Stinson scored all 10 of his points in the first half and made the transition to coach. Fellow starting guard Will Blalock scored 10 points and dished out four assists in 34 minutes. Homan and Staple played 31 and 27 minutes, respectively.

"I thought that our starters played a good amount of minutes," Morgan said. "But we were able to rest them more going down the stretch and got some guys intermittent rest during the game. Hopefully we will have fresh legs tomorrow."


Stinson and Clark apply some defensive pressure to Baylor's Tim Bush.


Morgan discusses a call with referee David Hall.


Clark celebrates after he scored 20 points in ISU's 20-point victory over the Bears.


Staple gains possession of a loose ball.


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