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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Veteran Cyclones have helped create intense KU-ISU rivalry

Iowa State guard Monte Morris (11) looks to pass around Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) during the first half, Monday, Jan. 25, 2016 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Iowa State guard Monte Morris (11) looks to pass around Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) during the first half, Monday, Jan. 25, 2016 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

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Forget the lofty ranking, the 5-0 start in Big 12 play or the 16-game winning streak the team currently is riding.

For Kansas guards Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham, the focus was on something that, at least for the moment, is much more important than any of those things — winning in Ames, Iowa.

Both were happy to talk about it just minutes after the Jayhawks improved to 16-1 on Saturday evening with a hard-fought win over Oklahoma State at Allen Fieldhouse. And both sounded eerily similar in the way they worded the challenge they’ll face Monday night at Iowa State’s Hilton Coliseum.

“I’m excited, man,” said Graham, who poured in a season-high 21 points in the win over OSU. "I haven’t won at Iowa State yet, so that’s the key.”

Added Mason, who tallied a team-high 22 points and bumped his Big 12 leading scoring average up to 20.5 points per game: “I haven’t won there personally, and we want to go up there and play our best basketball and just get ready.”

Even though the Cyclones (11-5 overall, 3-2 Big 12) enter the first Big Monday game of what promises to be a wild Big 12 season unranked and on the heels of a road loss to TCU, their lineup features a host of veterans who have logged a lot of miles in the Big 12 and had varying degrees of success against the Jayhawks.

Kansas coach Bill Self on Saturday reminded folks that he picked Iowa State to win the Big 12 this season.

“I think they’re really good,” Self said.

Iowa State starts five seniors, including preseason Big 12 player of the year Monte Morris. Four of the five can shoot. All five are legit athletes. And the group, as a whole, has both great respect for Kansas and a strong desire to take the Jayhawks down.

That desire burns hottest for senior guard Naz Long, who has played the role of Jayhawk killer in the past but missed out on two opportunities to do so last year because of an injury that cost him all but eight games of the 2015-16 season. Granted a medical red-shirt following the end of what would have been his senior year, Long is back and, in 16 starts so far this season, leads the Cyclones with 15.7 points per game.

“Man, this is it,” Long said before the start of the season. “After this, we’re gonna be taking a step into the real world, wherever that leads us. And this is it. It’s our last chance playing against Kansas and at Texas and at Oklahoma and you’ve gotta cherish every one of those moments.”

While each Big 12 game and whatever comes next will be special to Long, few are as special as the match-ups with Kansas. KU and ISU have developed a nationally recognized rivalry during the past several seasons. And even though all-time ISU great Georges Niang is no longer in a Cyclones uniform, that does not mean that the rivalry is dead.

“We have a nice little rivalry going and that was kind of solidified when Bill Self said that our rivalry with them was as significant as anybody’s in the country,” Long said. “That’s pretty cool to hear from him and I’m gonna pay my respects to that program. They get it done. And when we look back on those games, those will definitely be games we never forget for the rest of our lives.”

Asked to name one game that sticks at the top of Long’s list, the 6-foot-4 Canadian pointed to a four-point win over KU in the Big 12 tournament title game two years ago.

“It was half red and half blue, just a crazy atmosphere,” Long recalled. “We were losing the whole game, we couldn’t buy a lead. But in the second half we had a nice little surge and pulled it off.”

It’s games like that and performances from a long list of great players on both sides that made the rivalry what it has become. And Long said experiencing it firsthand is a dream come true.

“That’s why we came to Iowa State, man,” he said. “We could’ve gone to different schools that had winning traditions in the past but we didn’t because we wanted to come build a winning tradition at Iowa State and now people know who Iowa State is. We’re definitely on the map now.”

Comments

Bryce Landon 4 years, 9 months ago

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Barry Weiss 4 years, 9 months ago

should be a very, very tough game. Hopefully they will not be hot from beyond the arc and we are :)

Tony Bandle 4 years, 9 months ago

Odd Thoughts from Oakville:

1] My heart will always say this game can be a win, but my heads always marks this game down as a loss when I look at our schedule in September.

2] For the uninitiated, in the Preseason Coaches Poll, no coach can vote for his own team, thus Bill picks who he thinks will finish in second place and says nice things about them.

3] About the Okie State game, is it me or does it seam like Forte has been there since "W" was President?

4] Billy Preston named Mac All Star. Who says nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin' !!

5] The only time #1 counts is after the end of the National Championship.

6] Heartbreaking loss by the Chiefs last night. Geez, 72 tackled and wrestled the guy to the ground then pinned him for the three count. Overtime would have been fun!!

Kent Richardson 4 years, 9 months ago

I think Forte came back as half of Bryant Reeves.

Kent Richardson 4 years, 9 months ago

Glad to see DeVonte light it up again. I think this is our first official "I got your 4 guard right here!"

This is our best rivalry right now.

This is the loudest and most hostile atmosphere we face.

If we are #1 and the Cylos win there will be a court storm and a snake dance down University Blvd.

If we come out flat and get down by 15 in the first five minutes, why?

Can JJack hit his first three bunnies this time out?

Will Deonte Burton or Jackson get two fouls first?

Morris is really, really good. Will we wait until the second half to pressure him?

Can we get a 20 point lead late in the second half and silence where you can hear a pin drop so we can hear that creepy fan call Self an a**hole and see that little smile from Bill?

15 bench points, our starters are tired, would be nice along with 10 and 12 from Landen.

Big Monday game and really a chance for Jackson to put himself up there with Gonzo Ball, Take a leak, sorry, Monk, De'Barend Fox and Lettuce Leaf. I would like to see 30 and 15, okay? With 4 blocks, 4 steals and 4 assists. We used to talk blue trash on here but since the great SEC raid it went away so I'm just being nostalgic and childish. I love/miss rivalries and no one can hang with us, not that Mizzou did.

Oh, and some Ukrainian Uranium 23 and 5 please.

Tony. thanks for the Billy Preston song take. How can we work that in when he jams one?

Remember, we can outscore your ass!

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 9 months ago

Villanova jumped us in the AP. #1 in the ESPN/Coach's

Mike Greer 4 years, 9 months ago

I recall back in the Norm Stewart days Mizzou was always a tough game and they did have quite a streak in the Big 8 from '79 to '83. KU wasn't nearly as consistent back then and many years if it wasn't KU is was Mizzou that took the conference.

I still don't want to ever play them again, the way they left just didn't set well with me.

Nick Kramer 4 years, 9 months ago

Danny Manning was 0-4 in Ames, including '86 FF and '88 NC teams. Tough place to win.

Kent Richardson 4 years, 9 months ago

Jeff Grayer was Manning's opponent all three years and was 2nd team AA, and the first since the great Waldo Wegner in 1937, in 1987-1988 to Danny's 1st team of course. Grayer is ISU's all time leading scorer, and 5th in rebounding, with Niang second.

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