Georges Niang, Jamari Traylor

Iowa State loses to Kansas, but don’t disregard their three-point shooting

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You won’t find many nights where the regulation, three-point shooting performance of Iowa State will be outdone.

On Monday night in a 108-96 overtime loss at home to no. 6 Kansas, the Cyclones hit a ton of shots from beyond the arc. Six different players who hit a three. Five hit at least two. Georges Niang, who on the season is 37-percent from three, hit three himself, his only field goals of the game. Tyrus McGee, the Cyclones resident gunner, hit 6-of-10 from beyond the arc.

Point-and-case: Korie Lucious tried to throw a lob to Melvin Ejim, and instead, that lob went in for a three. It was that kind of night, for the first 40 minutes. They were 17-of-41 (41.5 percent) overall from deep. And that was after they went 0-for-6 from three in overtime. So, with the possibility of a questionable call in the Niang/Jeff Withey scramble late, this team finishes with some moreimpressive numbers from three-point range than they appear, considering the volume at which they threw them up.

They did everything a great shooting team should do to win, offensively. That can happen when you’re playing an elite team. One that’s a national title contender like Kansas.

However, they failed to stop Elijah Johnson, a player that averages 9.1 points per game, from scoring 39 — 37 if you discount the end-of-game dunk that got a ton of people riled up. They also got a 3-for-17 night from the normally-reliable Niang, a freshman who has surpassed expectations and on the season has hit 53.1-percent of his shots. They allowed the same weapon they use to beat a ton of teams, to beat them, with the Jayhawks hitting 13-of-25 three pointers.

The Cyclones were also out-rebounded by 10, including Withey’s double-double with 13 points and 10 boards.

With that said, there aren’t a lot teams in a field of 68 that can hang with them when they shoot like they they did Monday night from three. Especially when they only commit seven turnovers and hit 29-of-34 free throws.

On the season, three players, McGee, Lucious and Chris Babb, have hit at least 50 threes. Will Clyburn has hit 31. They’ve got the shooters and they’ve got the consistency. Five players make at least 35-percent from three. It’s not overly-impressive, individually, but as a collective, it’s solid.

They won’t face a better team than Kansas this season until they get to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament, at best. Unless they take on Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament.

The Jayhawks took the best the Cyclones had and still won in overtime. That happens when you’re playing one of the elite teams in college basketball.

But a night like that against most teams, especially in the postseason? That’s a win. Easy. And as long as the Cyclones are primed for at least an at-large bid (they might need another good win to seal it), their fans should still be confident this team can do a lot of damage in March.

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten

No. 4 Maryland refocuses, slows down No. 18 Purdue

Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon watches from the sideline during a break in play in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Purdue, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in College Park, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
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No. 18 Purdue and No. 4 Maryland exchanged leads for most of the first 33 minutes before the Boilermakers scored five straight points on layups by Rapheal Davis (who was fouled on his make) and Caleb Swanigan. Purdue was getting the touches it wanted around the basket, and Mark Turgeon’s Terrapins weren’t doing a whole lot to keep it from happening either.

Turgeon called a timeout to get his team back in sync defensively, and as a result Maryland went on a 9-0 run that ultimately led to their winning by the final score of 72-61.

Maryland’s big men, Robert Carter Jr. and Diamond Stone, did a much better job down the stretch of keeping Purdue from getting the ball inside to senior center A.J. Hammons. Hammons finished the game with 18 points and ten rebounds, but only two of those points came after Maryland’s 9-0 second half run. But keeping the ball from getting inside is just as much about the players defending the passers as it is keeping the big(s) from getting to his preferred spot.

Defensively Maryland took away the passing angles and essentially made Purdue’s guards make plays, something they’ve struggled with at times this season. That led to far too many perimeter shots for Purdue, which shot 3-for-23 on the day from beyond the arc. Add in the fact that they attempted just five free throws as a team, making two, and areas in which the Boilermakers can benefit went neglected in College Park.

By comparison Maryland was able to make a habit of going to the foul line, shooting 24-for-27 from the charity stripe with Rasheed Sulaimon and Melo Trimble combining to go 17-for-19 on the day. The foul line helped Trimble make up for an off day from the field, as he shot 2-for-12, but the sophomore’s ability to work off of ball screens ultimately opened things up for Maryland even with his shots not falling.

Add in the fact that Sulaimon (21 points, ten rebounds) and Carter (19 points, seven rebounds) were able to pick up the slack, with Diamond Stone adding 12 points and six rebounds, and it’s easy to see why Maryland was able to turn things around down the stretch.

Maryland’s been a good defensive team this season, but they got away from that for a significant portion of Saturday’s game. A key timeout to get the team refocused paid off, the the Terrapins defending at a level that made it incredibly difficult for Purdue to get anything going. And as a result, Maryland remains within a game of leaders Iowa and Indiana in the Big Ten title race.

Darryl Reynolds shines, Kris Dunn struggles as No. 3 Villanova beat No. 11 Providence

Villanova forward Darryl Reynolds (45) dunks the ball in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Creighton, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Villanova, Pa. Villanova won 83-58. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
(AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
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Replacing the injured Daniel Ochefu, who missed his third straight game as the result of a concussion, Darryl Reynolds finished with a career-high 19 points and 10 boards as No. 3 Villanova went into Providence and knocked off the No. 11 Friars, 72-60.

Josh Hart chipped in with 14 points and 13 boards (seven of which were offensive), Kris Jenkins notched a double-double as well and Ryan Arcidiacono added 16 points for the Wildcats, who improved to 10-1 in Big East play, keeping them all alone in first place in the league.

Perhaps the most impressive part of this win, which wasn’t quite as close as the final score would indicate, is that Villanova did it while shooting just 5-for-22 from three. The Wildcats have been reliant on the three during this recent run atop the conference, and on Saturday, they won by controlling the the glass and the paint.

Reynolds’ performance was something else. This is a guy who entered the game averaging just 2.3 points and a reputation for being little more than the reason that Ochefu played so many minutes, but it got to the point on Saturday that he was being double-teamed in the post to get the ball out of his hands. That’s pretty remarkable.

As if the fact that Villanova, playing without their best rebounder, grabbed 12 offensive rebounds and totally controlled the defensive glass.

 

Much of that is likely due to the fact that Ben Bentil, the 6-foot-8 forward for the Friars that is the Big East’s leading scorer, was dealing with an ankle injury he suffered at DePaul earlier this week. He finished 20 points, but much of that came in the form of jumpers and shots at the rim while his two rebounds was much more indicative of the impact that he was able to make with his ankle.

But what was really concerning for Providence was that Kris Dunn was downright awful. He shot 4-for-15 from the floor, committed six turnovers and simply made the wrong decision too many times. Yes, he was likely pressing due to the fact that Bentil was injured and Villanova’s defense was keying on him, but it’s not exactly comforting to know that this is what his floor is.

He’s Kris Dunn.

He’s going to be keyed on by defenses every single time he steps on a basketball court.

He has to be better than he was today.