INDEPENDENCE - For Independence, the prep football season opener bore little resemblance to its winless 2016 campaign.
Even in defeat, a clear message was sent that there are brighter days ahead for the Mustangs.
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AMES — Iowa State junior point guard Monte Morris paused for a moment as he tried to remember the last time he was off the court for two days.
“I usually work out every day, even on our off days,” Morris said. “So I probably haven’t taken two days off since June 15 or around that time.”
Morris has been inside the gym at Sukup Basketball Complex most days for the last nine months, but after his shoulder injury in a loss at Kansas Saturday, he’s taking some time off as the Big 12 tournament nears.
Iowa State Coach Steve Prohm wanted to keep Morris out of practice Monday and Tuesday in an effort to have him ready for walk-through Wednesday in advance of the No. 19 Cyclones’ Big 12 tournament quarterfinal matchup against No. 6 Oklahoma on Thursday.
Morris collided with KU guard Frank Mason III as he attempted a 3-point shot with less than a minute to go and suffered a shoulder strain. Prohm said holding him out of practice is just precautionary and there is no structural damage. He said he’s looking at it as the perfect opportunity to get Morris — who plays heavy minutes — a rest.
“He probably needs some rest, but it’s just hard to rest him,” Prohm said. “He’s the one true point guard we have so it’s just really hard to have him off the floor. I need to try to steal a minute or two here and there, I’ve said that, but actually doing it is another thing.
“In so many of these games, it’s so close and the possessions are so important.”
Morris is averaging 38.1 minutes per game this season and, in Big 12 play, has been on the floor 718 of 735 minutes. The next closest ISU player in minutes played in conference games is junior guard Matt Thomas at 658. Senior Georges Niang is third at 616.
The soreness Morris has felt has given him the most trouble in the days since the game, but he’s been exercising his rotator cuff with stretches and lightweight training. Prohm and Morris said he will be ready to play against the Sooners.
Prohm added that junior Deonte Burton, who punctured his cheek with his tooth after a collision with Kansas’ Perry Ellis, will be fine for Thursday’s game.
“When Thursday comes, I’m going to see the fans in there and the adrenaline is going to be rushing,” Morris said. “Even if I was in pain, my mom is going to be there and I’m going to tell her I’m 100 percent even if I’m 50. That’s just the love for this team and I’m going to lay it all out on the line whether I’m hurt or not.”
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