Deonte Burton spun toward the basket and gave every indication of finishing strong. But at the last moment, he dumped off a pass to Solomon Young, who had time to fumble the ball before laying it in to beat the halftime buzzer and complete Iowa State’s first-half dominance.
The Cyclones didn’t let up after the break. They’re in Big 12 Tournament mode and took out TCU 84-63 on Friday in a semifinal game and will meet the West Virginia-Kansas State survivor in Saturday’s championship.
When Iowa State gets rolling in Kansas City it’s quite a show. The team feeds off a fan base that takes over the arena, which happened in even bigger numbers on Friday, a day after the other big fan favorite, Kansas, was upset by TCU.
Iowa State’s trip to the championship game is its third in four years and the Cyclones are looking to make it three trophies in that stretch.
After knocking off Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals, the Cyclones have put together two solid performances and the tournament has a familiar feeling to point guard Monte Morris.
“We just lean on each other,” Morris said. “We trust in one and other to make plays and we are playing with a high energy. When you’ve got guys like that and we’re all pulling for each other, it’s easier to win games.”
Everything seemed to go right for Iowa State on Friday.
The Cyclones (22-10) shot 56 percent for the game and opened a 17-point lead at the break. Burton was especially active, scoring 13 of his 22 before halftime.
“It just came to me,” Burton said. “The opportunities were coming to me and I took advantage of it.”
Morris dropped in a three-pointer to increase Iowa State’s lead to 35-25, and his next triple made it 42-27.
TCU took a timeout after each shot, but nothing was cooling off the Cyclones.
After the Horned Frogs’ 6-0 run sliced the margin to 14 early in the second half, Iowa State answered with 12 straight, starting with a three-pointer from Naz Mitrou-Long. He followed that with a defensive rebound and finished the possession with a sharp pass to Matt Thomas for a layup.
Friday was Iowa State at its Kansas City best. And it wasn’t just the starters. The second half Donovan Jackson swished a rhythm three, Nick Weiler-Babb swatted away a shot and buried a couple of his own triples as the lead kept expanding, which allowed coach Steve Prohm to rest some of his regulars.
“This was a great win,” Prohm said. “Defensively in the first half, we were very good. Deonte got it going for us but all the guys chipped in. We beat a very good team.”
One that was seeking its third victory in three nights after TCU ended the regular-season on a seven-game losing streak.
On Thursday, TCU knocked off the top-seeded Jayhawks, beating a No. 1-ranked team for the first time in program history.
But meeting a second straight partisan crowd in Sprint Center — Iowa State fans made up more than half the house — TCU could do little to contain Iowa State.
Still, it’s been a solid season for the Horned Frogs (19-15) and it might be over. TCU holds out hope for a postseason appearance, likely in the NIT.
First-year coach Jamie Dixon said extending the season would be “an accomplishment for our guys. I want to get that across to them. It’s huge progress.”