January 23, 2015

Adversity isn't anything new for an Iowa State team that's been adjusting to injuries and defections since the summer.

Short-handed on the road for a second consecutive game, the 14th-ranked Cyclones will rely on that resiliency once again in Wednesday night's matchup with fading Texas Tech.

Lacking both size and depth heading into coach Steve Prohm's first season, the Cyclones have been further thinned in both areas. Starting guard Naz Mitrou-Long was lost to a season-ending hip injury in mid-December and Prohm suspended center Jameel McKay prior to Saturday's game at Oklahoma State. Iowa State (17-6, 6-4 Big 12) has withstood those challenges, not to mention former coach Fred Hoiberg's departure to the NBA in June, to remain a contender in a league rated as the nation's toughest by the RPI.

The transition hasn't always been smooth, as evidenced by consecutive losses to ranked teams Texas A&M and West Virginia entering the Oklahoma State game, in which the Cyclones overcame an unusually poor shooting opening half to earn a much-needed 64-59 win.

Iowa State shot 57.1 percent after the break and ended the game on a 10-4 run after trailing 55-54 with 3:22 left.

''I think it was just adjusting,'' guard Monte Morris said. ''We talked big about spacing at halftime and that was a big emphasis that we put in after halftime. We came out and were able to get the job done.''

Morris and Georges Niang, the two constants during the Cyclones' trying season, sparked the surge. Niang, who moved to center in McKay's absence, scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half and Morris had 13 of his 16 in the final period.

Prohm will deploy that same lineup against struggling Texas Tech (13-9, 3-7) after announcing that McKay, third in the Big 12 with 9.0 rebounds per game and Iowa State's best interior defender, won't play again as punishment for violating an unspecified team rule. Prohm said during his Monday press conference he's hopeful the senior will be reinstated for Saturday's home game against Texas.

"I have younger kids that I have to set an example for. I've got recruits. I want to do special things here," Prohm said. "I want things a certain way, and that's the way it needs to be in every area. Some things I let go that the end of the day, I can't let go.

"It's not just about this year. I want Georges Niang, Monte Morris, Jameel McKay and Abdel Nader to come back in three years and be damn proud of the Iowa State basketball program. That's why I have to make the decisions I make."

McKay's absence should be felt, as he recorded 19 points and 14 rebounds in a 76-69 home win over the Red Raiders on Jan. 6.

Whether Texas Tech can take advantage remains to be seen. The Red Raiders are without top post player Norense Odiase, sidelined with a broken foot, and have shot 36.3 percent over their last four games. Leading scorer Devaugntah Williams (11.6 ppg) is averaging just 6.0 points during a stretch of four losses in five games.

Texas Tech has lost eight of 10 following an 11-1 start and 13 straight against ranked teams since a 78-73 win over then-No. 9 Iowa State in Lubbock on Jan. 24, 2015. The Red Raiders were 11 of 24 on 3s in that game but 2 of 15 in last month's meeting.

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