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