NICEVILLE — With Illinois and No. 4 Iowa State trading the lead for most of Saturday's championship game in the Emerald Coast Classic, Cyclones guard Monte Norris decided with 10:51 left to try to deliver a knockout punch.
Iowa State led 59-58. Norris had the ball at midcourt and saw Abdel Nader had a step on his defender. Norris fired a lob pass and Nader slammed it home. The dunk was part of an 18-4 run in the Cyclones' 84-73 win.
"We practice a lot of lobs and connect. When I was at halfcourt I saw him point up. I threw it up there and you saw the results," said Norris, who was voted the tournament MVP after having 20 points and nine rebounds.
Georges Niang, who led the Cyclones (5-0) with 23 points, scored six during the spurt. Norris and Nader (18 points) had four each.
"That catapulted the momentum, changed the whole pace and fired us up," Niang said. "I really think that was instinct from Monte. He knows the time, the score and what it is going to do to change momentum."
For the first 30 minutes, Illinois hung in and was challenging the Cyclones at both ends of the court.
The Illini scored seven of the game's first nine and were up 12-6 less than five minutes in. Iowa State started slowly cutting into the lead, as the last 12 minutes of the half saw six ties and seven lead changes.
The opening part of the second half had two more ties and five lead changes before the Cyclones seized control.
"It felt like a heavyweight boxing match and then the last 8-9 minutes they imposed their will, and for whatever reason we weren't able to impose ours. Their ability to work to get the shots was better than us," Illinois coach John Groce said.
Malcolm Hill led Illinois with 20 points, Kendrick Nunn added 19 and Mike Thorne Jr. had 10.
In its first five games, Iowa State has wins over teams from the Pac-12 (Colorado), ACC (Virginia Tech) and Big Ten (Illinois).
NO. 2 MARYLAND 80, CLEVELAND ST. 63: Robert Carter had 17 points and eight rebounds, Jared Nickens added 16 points and freshman Diamond Stone had a season-high 15 for the host Terrapins (6-0), set for a showdown with No. 9 North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday night. Maryland led by just four at the break then took control by increasing the pressure to open the second half. Stone's dunk capped an 8-0 run.
NO. 16 PURDUE 77, LEHIGH 55: Sophomore center Isaac Haas scored 21 of his career-high 24 in the second half for the host Boilermakers, who took advantage of foul trouble to reigning Patriot League player of the year Tim Kempton to improve to 6-0, with all the victories by at least 22 points.
NO. 24 CINCY 61, GW 56: Octavius Ellis had back trouble but played through the pain and didn't seem to have any problem holding the MVP award for the Barclays Center Classic over his head. "It's game time," the 6-foot-10 senior said after posting nine points and seven rebounds for the Bearcats (7-0) in the title game in New York. "I just got to put my pain aside and just go out and sacrifice for the team."
MIAMI (OHIO) 64, UCF 63: Eric Washington's jumper with 23 seconds left lifted the host RedHawks (4-3) over the Knights (1-3). Washington scored 15 on 5-of-10 shooting and made all four free throws. Willie Moore and Geovonie McKnight added 13 each for Miami, which went into the game the NCAA's third-best rebounding team but were outrebounded by UCF 36-30.
ECKERD 71, CLAFLIN 62: Kevin Walsh hit 4 of 7 3-pointers and had 15 points, and E.J. Moody added 14 points and six rebounds for the Tritons (6-1) on the final day of the Eckerd College Thanksgiving Classic.
TAMPA 82, P.R.-BAYAMON 65: Pat Bacon scored 20 of his 28 in the second half and Marcel Robinson had 18 points and 18 rebounds to lead the Spartans (3-3) at the Eckerd College Thanksgiving Classic.