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COLLEGE MEN’S BASKETBALL

ISU basketball: Cyclones looking for best of Burton at Baylor

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AMES — Deonte Burton has all the physical tools you would want in a basketball player.

At 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, he’s caught in the middle of being a guard and forward. Burton is almost too big for guards to get a good handle on and just small enough to get around bigger forwards.

His not-so-secret weapon is his athleticism, and he has shown the ability to make shots and get physical inside for rebounds. The next step in Burton’s evolution has to be putting all of those tangible qualities together every time he steps on the court.

In Iowa State’s road trip to No. 3 Baylor on Wednesday (7 p.m. on ESPNews), his involvement at both ends of the floor becomes even more important.

“We need the Gonzaga Deonte Burton and it’s not about the 29 points, it’s about the 12 rebounds,” said Cyclones coach Steve Prohm. “It’s about the toughness he showed down in Florida fighting against Miami, fighting against Gonzaga.

“We need him to be really good for us, he knows that, I know that, and we’ve just got to get him back playing to that level.”

Even in that loss to the top-10 Bulldogs, Burton’s 29 points on 13-for-24 shooting with 12 rebounds in 36 minutes has been the height of his Cyclone (9-3, 1-0) career so far. There have been not-so-nice nights, also.

Against Drake and Texas Tech, Burton went 3-for-20 from the field and grabbed 13 rebounds. In between those games, against Mississippi Valley State, he went 3-for-5 and had eight points and nine rebounds.

In Burton’s view, good defense and methodical play around the rim will naturally lead to offense that coincides with the flow of the game. He knows not to get too high or too low on any given night.

“Basketball is like life,” Burton said. “You’ll always have ups and you’ll always have downs. You just have to try to make as many ups as you can and when you’re having a down game, do something different.”

In last season’s overtime loss in Waco against the Bears (13-0) Burton played 27 minutes — his fourth-highest minutes of the year — and had 14 points and six rebounds while shooting 4-for-10 from two-point range.

Against Baylor’s 6-foot-10 Johnathan Motley and 7-foot Jo Lual-Acuil Jr., Burton’s athleticism and ability to be a creative scorer inside makes him the x-factor for the smaller ISU lineup.

It all starts with Iowa State running out in transition.

“Deonte’s going to be able to make some plays around the rim like he always has when we’ve played against Baylor,” said point guard Monte Morris. “We’ve just got to make jump shots and attack them. The few times we’ve struggled with them, we let the zone attack us.”

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