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    Morris leads Iowa State to third Big 12 tourney title in four years

    POSTED March 11, 2017 9:59 p.m.

    (TNS) — KANSAS CITY, Mo. _ Iowa State starts four seniors and three more fill the roster. They added to their Big 12 hardware Saturday.
    The Cyclones defeated West Virginia, 80-74, at Sprint Center for the program’s third Big 12 tournament championship in four years.
    Iowa State makes itself home in Kansas City, the arena filled with cardinal and gold clad fans and the Cyclones fed off the crowd.
    After a slow start, Iowa State warmed up, took the lead with about 5{ minutes remaining in the first half and never lost it.
    Many made contributions to the title run, but point guard Monte Morris, the team’s heartbeat, was the catalyst.
    Morris finished with a team best 17 points and provided the spirit lifting spark at the end of the first half.
    In a short sequence Morris stuck a short-range jumper, swished a fade-away jumper over Jevon Carter, the Big 12 defensive player of the year, and completed the flurry in the final seconds with a 3-pointer to give Iowa State a 35-29 halftime lead.
    Morris even profited from a miss. His first field goal try of the second half a 3-pointer that fell short. But the ball bounded back to him and finished at the rim.
    Morris was named the tournament’s most outstanding player, joining teammates Deonte Burton and Matt Thomas on the all-tournament team with West Virginia’s Tarik Phillip and Carter.
    West Virginia, which shot it horribly in its victory over Kansas State on Friday, was a different team offensively in the opening minutes. The Mountaineers had six first-half field goals against the Wildcats. They had that many eight minutes into the half.
    But turnovers helped slow down West Virginia. Iowa State was able to pounce on some carelessness and turned the mistakes into points. The Cyclones took their first lead of the half on Darrell Bowie’s three-point play that made it 23-22.
    Bowie was part of a bench brigade that turned in an amazing run. Bowie, lefty marksman Donovan Jackson and Nick Weiler-Babb scored 18 straight points for the Cyclones.
    In the second half, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins collected a technical foul for apparently disputing a collection in front of the Mountaineers bench between Phillip and Naz Mitrou-Long. Matt Thomas hit both free throws, Burton hit a step back jumper and the Iowa State went to 50-38.
    West Virginia chipped away, cutting the deficit to 65-60 on Teyvon Myers’ drive with 5{ minutes remaining.
    But the Mountaineers couldn’t come up with the big stop in the final minutes.
    Both teams are headed to the NCAA Tournament and they’ll know their seeds when the selection show airs on Sunday. Iowa State was projected as a No. 6 or 7 seed entering the Big 12 Tournament, West Virginia a No. 3 or 4 seed.
    Iowa State lugged into the game a four-game losing streak to West Virginia, and it took the Cyclones a few minutes to find a groove against the pressing defense.
    Even standing still Iowa State had problems. Mitrou-Long, an 81-percent free-throw shooter, missed two early on.
    But the Cyclones, especially Morris and the bench, came alive later in the half and kept it up after the break.
    Shortly after the final buzzer the team made its way to the victory platform wearing Big 12 Tournament title hats, a path and fashion the Cyclones know well.

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