Who are the Cyclones calling? The competition

Iowa State guard Donovan Jackson has knocked down some big shots, added some solid defense and provided some valuable minutes off the bench for the 20th-ranked Cyclones this season.

But his biggest contributions may be his celebratory acts.

Jackson has become a fan-favorite with his unusual antics following big shots. His latest move: Pretending to be on the phone after a big basket.

The move was picked up some of his teammates and had Iowa State fans asking, who are the Cyclones calling when they’re celebrating? Well, Jackson let everyone in on the secret: It's the competition.

“It’s pretty much like they’ve got to pick up the phone,” Jackson said. “They’ve got to pick it up. They’ve got a call on their line.”

Jackson is telling his competition that they have to find a way to answer an Iowa State big play.

Not many have against the Cyclones lately. Nevada couldn’t as the Cyclones beat the Wolf Pack in the first round of the NCAA Tournament with an 84-73 win at the Bradley Center on Thursday.

The phone was ringing a ton in last night's win. The busiest caller? Iowa State big man Darrell Bowie. While many Iowa State fans picked up on the act from Bowie, it was actually Jackson who started it.

The junior college transfer some other interesting celebrations, too. One of his other popular moves was when Jackson would rest his head on his hands and pretend to sleep after a big basket.

“I think a lot of people just sleep on us all the time because we’re always the underdog in every occasion and I think that just fits our team,” Jackson said.

But Jackson had to find another move after he was warned earlier in the season that it might generate a technical. Thus, the phone call was born.

“It’s awesome,” said Iowa State guard Naz Mitrou-Long. “Our team feeds off of it. Some people like it, some people don’t in the world, but to each his own. We do and that’s his role is to bring a spark.”

One person who isn’t a fan of the gesture: Iowa State coach Steve Prohm, who has tried to put the kibosh on it.

“I kept doing it and he’s told me not to do it, but it’s just all emotion,” Jackson said. “You just go with the flow of the game.”

Iowa State's Darrell Bowie reacts after making a dunk during the Iowa State men's basketball game against Nevada in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday, March 16, 2017, at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee. (Photo: Kelsey Kremer/The Register)


Speed vs. Size: How Iowa State matches up with Purdue

MILWAUKEE — It’s yin vs. yang.

Speed vs. size.

Post play vs. guard play.

Saturday’s showdown in the second round of the NCAA Tournament between No. 20 Iowa State and No. 15 Purdue will be a matchup of opposites. The two teams will tangle on Saturday night at 8:40 p.m. at the Bradley Center.

“I think both teams if you talked to both coaches, we provide some problems for them, they provide a lot of problems for us,” said Iowa State coach Steve. Prohm. “We’ve just got to be a tougher team.”

Purdue and Iowa State have used different ways to attack their competition this season. Saturday night, they’ll go head-to-head for a shot at the Sweet 16.

The Boilermakers have gotten to this point thanks to their size, relying heavily on post play from 6-foot-9, 250-pound big man Caleb Swanigan. Swanigan averages 18.4 points per game and 12.6 rebounds. Then there’s 6-8, 225 pounder Vincent Edwards who averages 12.5 points and 4.8 rebounds. And don’t forget about Isaac Haas, a 7-2, 290-pound center who averages 12.5 points and 5.1 rebounds.

Three pose a tall task for Iowa State — literally.

“It’s going to be a big challenge since they are so big,” said Iowa State center Solomon Young.

Iowa State has won because of its speed and sharp shooting. The Cyclones have relied heavily on their guard play all season. The biggest contributors: Monte Morris (6-3, 175), Naz Mitrou-Long (6-4, 203), Matt Thomas (6-5, 193) and Deonte Burton (6-5, 250). Young, the starting center, checks in at 6-8, 240.

It’s a size disadvantage Prohm said the Cyclones have encountered all season long. The best comparison is Gonzaga, which has 7-1, 300-pound center Przemek Karnowski who scored 11 points, grabbed eight rebounds and handed out five assists in a win against Iowa State earlier this season.

“We do it different,” Prohm said. “The biggest thing for us to win this game is we’ve got to be the tougher team on the defensive end of the floor. (It’s) not about offense. We’re going to do on offense what we do. But can we extend their catches? Can we have great ball pressure? Can we defend the post and not give them easy post touches for Swanigan, Haas? Then can we rebound and finish plays?”

The Cyclones will find out Saturday. Rebounding has been a problem for the Cyclones. So, has size.

But Iowa State’s post play has dramatically improved at the end of the season. The reason? Solomon Young. Iowa State has won 10 of 11 games since Young entered the starting lineup Feb. 11. He will face his biggest challenge Saturday as a true freshman.

Prohm’s message to his young big man: Don’t let the ball in the post.

“He’s a tough kid so I know he’ll respond and work his tail off,” Prohm said.

His move to the starting lineup has also benefited fellow big man Darrell Bowie, who has provided a big boost off the bench. The two have been on the floor at times and could play together again Saturday to help Iowa State matchup with Purdue’s size.

But Iowa State’s best counter may be its speed.

“Sometimes you have size advantage and quickness gets your more rebounds, you know what I mean?” said Purdue coach Matt Painter. “If our size is going to help us outrebound them, then it is an advantage. But if it doesn’t, then it’s not. For us, we’ve got to be able to use our size, but we’ve also got to be able to use our brains.”

Iowa State will have to use its sharp shooting to get past Purdue. That means the Cyclones will need big nights from Morris, Mitrou-Long, Thomas and Burton who has become a matchup nightmare for opposing teams due to his size and athletic ability. Prohm's goal is to push to pace, get in transition and wear down the Boilermakers' bigs.

“We just want to do our best to help the bigs because they definitely have a big task,” Mitrou-Long said.

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