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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Monte Morris saw the trap coming and tried to react.
Two Oklahoma State defenders swarmed the Iowa State point guard before he could get rid of the ball, and tied it up. In the scrum, Morris heard one of them chirp in his ear and gave him a shove to clear some space.
Iowa State’s Donovan Jackson rushed in, confronted Oklahoma State’s Brandon Averette and pushed him away from Morris, resulting in double technical fouls.
That moment gave the Cyclones a moment of renewed intensity. It was the spark everybody had waited to feel.
“After that we just went on a crazy run because if one fights, then we all fight,” Morris said. “That’s just how it goes.”
A five-point lead quickly turned into an 11-point lead — thanks to a Morris floater and back-to-back 3s from Jackson — and sent four-seed Iowa State past five-seed Oklahoma State 92-83 in the first Big 12 tournament quarterfinal.
When it comes to Morris, everybody in the locker room gets a little protective.
“When Monte is in something, I’m always there,” Jackson said afterward. “That’s my brother so I went out there to try to break it up. (He and I) had some words and he pushed me. I was just there.”
The win gave the Cyclones (21-10) their 10th-straight win against the Cowboys (20-12), including a 3-0 sweep this season.
Morris put on another All-American performance as the stage continues to get bigger. He had 21 points (9-of-15 shooting), 10 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks and an uncharacteristic 3 turnovers in 36 minutes.
The Flint, Mich., native, led Iowa State in points, rebounds and assists for the first time this season, saving his best basketball for when his team needs it the most.
“When has Monte not turned it up this season?” said guard Naz Mitrou-Long, who had 14 points. “He’s been our rock getting us in sets and his season has been a testament to the summer he put in. He was awesome tonight.”
Morris, Mitrou-Long, Deonte Burton (17) and Matt Thomas (13) all reached double figures, but role players can have just as big an impact on how the postseason plays out. Iowa State got exactly what it needed from Jackson and forward Darrell Bowie.
Bowie chipped in 13 points (5-of-7 shooting) and four rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench while Jackson had eight points and two assists.
“That’s what you know you’re becoming a good team, when they accept their roles,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said. “Donovan steps in and makes two huge 3s. Huge 3s. And then Bowie, it wasn’t Solomon’s (Young) perfect day for him, but Bowie rebounded being active, finished making plays, made free throws. That was huge.”
Bowie’s minutes have fluctuated all season, but in the wake of Young’s foul trouble, he saw an opportunity to bring some energy. He isn’t known for his athleticism, but had three dunks — including an alley-oop — for the first time since high school.
“I felt pretty young today, man,” Bowie said. “I just knew my time would come back around. I’m just staying hungry and just looking forward to taking it game by game.”
Iowa State, which was 13-8 and 5-4 in league play at the end of January, has won eight of its last 10 games since the start of last month. The Cyclones will play eight-seed TCU on Friday at 6 p.m. (ESPN2).
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