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AMES, Iowa – Iowa State is hoping sophomore point guard Monte Morris can blossom into one of the Big 12's best players this season.
Morris sure looked like a star on Monday.
Morris scored a career-high 19 points with nine assists and no turnovers and 14th-ranked Iowa State rolled past Georgia State 81-58 on Monday night.
"He was awesome," Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. "He makes us go."
Naz Long added 17 for the Cyclones (2-0), who outscored the Panthers by 17 points in the second half.
Iowa State led by just two before going on a 31-13 run that put the game out of reach. Long keyed the stretch with a pair of 3s as the Cyclones pushed their lead to as much as 73-49.
R.J. Hunter had 21 for Georgia State (1-1). The Panthers were a unanimous pick to win the Sun Belt for the second year in a row.
From the moment Iowa State's schedule came out, its matchup with Georgia State seemed to be by far the toughest against a non-Power 5 school. The Panthers went 25-9 last season and their backcourt; Ryan Harrow, R.J. Hunter and Kevin Ware, can match up with nearly anyone in the country.
Georgia State showed why it's expected to cruise through its own league — at least for about a half.
The Cyclones missed 11 of their first 15 3s and led by just two late in the first half. But Iowa State's depth and frenetic pace eventually wore down the Panthers.
"That was the key at halftime. We wanted to come out with better pace and we did in the second half. Got good shots. Got the ball moving," Morris said.
Long buried his fourth 3 of the game and Bryce Dejean-Jones hit a transition layup to put the Cyclones up 42-29 early in the second half. Dejean-Jones followed with another transition layup, and Iowa State's lead was 56-40 with 13:25 left.
Dejean-Jones and Dustin Hogue each had 15 points for the Cyclones.
"The biggest thing was that we had a nice stretch where we got stops and we could get out and run," Hoiberg said.
Georgia State: With time winding down late in the first half, Hunter tried inbounding the ball — except that he was already about five feet in bounds. Iowa State got the ball back under its own basket, but Dejean-Jones missed a jumper at the buzzer. Hunter, who is considered a NBA prospect, finished 8 of 20 from the floor.
Iowa State: The Cyclones played their final game without guard Matt Thomas and forward Abdel Nader, who served two-game suspensions to open the season. Georges Niang, who had a career-high 30 points in the opener, finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Georgia State: plays at Colorado State on Friday.
Iowa State: faces Alabama in Kansas City on Nov. 24.
While his teammates were flying to Iowa on Sunday, Georgia State's Kevin Ware — perhaps best known for the gruesome leg injury he suffered in the Final Four while with Louisville — was laid up in a hospital bed with a stomach bug. Ware wasn't cleared to fly until Monday, so he took a commercial flight and arrived in Des Moines three hours before tip. Ware didn't look like himself though, finishing with just four points on 1 of 6 shooting.
All five of Iowa State's starters scored in double figures...Harrow finished with 12 points — but he needed 22 shots to do so. He also had five assists with five turnovers...The Cyclones had 23 assists on 29 baskets.