When former head coach Fred Hoiberg left his alma mater for the NBA, some wondered if Iowa State's basketball program would descend back to irrelevance.
Steve Prohm's Cyclones once again proved Saturday night they're doing just fine.
Monte Morris scored 17 points and Deonte Burton added 16, as Iowa State took home the Big 12 tournament championship with an 80-74 win over West Virginia.
The Cyclones have won three of the last four conference tournaments, the previous two under Hoiberg. Prohm took over the program in 2015 after four years at Murray State, leading Iowa State to a Sweet 16 berth a season ago. This year's squad is peaking at the right time as well.
Head football coach Matt Campbell offered his praise:
Adi Joseph of For the Win made the Hoiberg comparison:
Iowa State shot 54.2 percent from the field and turned the ball over just 13 times, a solid number against Bob Huggins' blitzing press defense. The Cyclones worked the ball up the floor semi-consistently to break the press and get open shots, which were mostly evenly distributed.
Morris led four Cyclones in double figures, with nearly everyone in Prohm's tight eight-man rotation contributing. Matt Thomas (12 points) and Darrell Bowie (10 points) were also in double figures. Bowie came off the bench to make his first four field goals and add six rebounds.
Burton and Thomas were highly efficient in their efforts, particularly in the second half. Burton was 7-of-11 from the field and knocked down both of his three-point attempts, while Thomas missed only two of his six shots. Burton made some major momentum plays down the stretch as West Virginia tried mounting a comeback, which included a dunk that brought down the house at the Sprint Center.
The internet approved:
Far from being offensive slouches, West Virginia stayed in the game with its own efficient offensive effort. Jevon Carter scored a team-high 18 points, as one of six Mountaineers with at least nine points. The Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year laid it all out on both ends, hitting four three-pointers and adding three rebounds.
Unfortunately for West Virginia, he went without a steal for just the third time all season.
Esa Ahmad, Elijah Macon and Daxter Miles Jr. all scored 10 points to round out the four starters in double figures. Teyvon Myers and Tarik Phillip scored nine apiece off the bench for West Virginia, which shot 51.8 percent from the floor and matched the Cyclones' 45 second-half points.
Huggins is yet to win a conference championship—regular season or postseason—since West Virginia joined the Big 12. The Mountaineers will, regardless, either match or surpass their best record under Huggins since they joined the conference in 2012. Their worst-case record for the 2016-17 season is 26-9, the same mark they had a year ago.
ESPN's Joe Lunardi has West Virginia as a No. 4 seed. Iowa State came into the day a No. 6 seed but might have bumped itself up with the conference tournament triumph.
Prohm discussed Morris' performance, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com): "Monte is great. You win with great players. I was very fortunate to walk into him being our point guard."
Morris wants his teammates to stay focused: "Two years ago, we won this same tournament and the next week, our lives were miserable. We lost to UAB. We just have to keep everyone together. That's our job, being seniors."
Huggins discussed Iowa State: "Everybody says it's hard to play against us with one-day prep, but I think it's really hard to play against them with one-day prep as well because they shoot the ball so well and spread you out so much."