After cutting down the net at the Sprint Center, the Iowa State Cyclones returned to their locker room for another celebration Saturday night.
Ice cubes littered the floor in front of the dry-erase board. Players tied strands of the net to the back of their championship hats and posed with the trophy. They passed around a “Big 12 Tournament Champion” placard and signed it.
They ran out of championship shirts. Assistant coach Daniyal Robinson didn’t get one. A player was about to take his off his back but Robinson stopped him.
“It’s all good,” he said later, laughing. “I was here.”
In walked senior Monte Morris, the rest of the net hanging around his neck. He had his own trophy, for being voted the tournament’s most outstanding player, but was looking for the big one. For he and fellow seniors Naz Mitrou-Long and Matt Thomas, it was their Big 12 Tournament title in four years.
“Chose a good school, great group of guys,” Morris said. “I’m just blessed.”
Morris averaged 17.7 points per game in the tournament, dished 15 assists to five turnovers and set the Big 12 Tournament record for career steals with 26, passing Oklahoma State’s Byron Eaton.
He was joined by four other guards on the 2017 All-Big 12 Tournament team, which was voted on after the Cyclones beat West Virginia 80-74 in the title game.
Deonte Burton, Iowa State senior guard
Burton averaged 18.3 points per game, shot 52.8 percent from the field, and threw down the dunk of the tournament when he collected a lob from Long, reached over West Virginia’s Sagaba Konate and slammed it in for an 11-point lead with 2 minutes to play in the title game.
“That was big time,” Morris said. “I knew once he caught it, it was going down.”
Said Long, who threw the pass from outside the three-point arc: “That should have been an and-1. That was nasty.”
Matt Thomas, Iowa State senior guard
One of three Cyclones to win his third tournament title in four years. He shot 6 of 12 from behind the arc in three games.
Jevon Carter, West Virginia junior guard
The only non-senior on the all-tournament team. Carter led the Mountaineers with 18 points in the final. He also scored 21 against Texas in West Virginia’s quarterfinal win and handed out six assists with no turnovers in a semifinal win over Kansas State.
Tarik Phillip, West Virginia senior guard
Only scored nine points in the final but helped get the Mountaineers there with a game-tying three against Kansas State in the semifinals.