Tag: Abdel Nader

Iowa State wins another Big 12 tourney crown (Getty Images)

Offensive discipline will be key for No. 13 Iowa State next week – and beyond

Leave a comment
source: Getty Images
Iowa State wins another Big 12 tourney crown (Getty Images)

Saturday night No. 13 Iowa State won its second consecutive Big 12 tournament title, beating No. 9 Kansas 70-66, but for the second time in three games the Cyclones needed a second-half surge to earn the victory.

Thursday night, Iowa State turned in one of its poorer halves of the season in their quarterfinal matchup against Texas. The Cyclones struggled with ball and player movement on the offensive end of the floor for much of the first half, with a late run making the halftime deficit a more manageable nine points.

Of course the Cyclones managed to come back, winning by two on a Monté Morris jumper in the final seconds, but Fred Hoiberg’s team was “playing with fire” in falling behind by as much as they did. Iowa State had the same problem in the first half against the Jayhawks, as they were far too stagnant offensively and the lack of ball and player movement had a significant impact on their productivity.

The Cyclones shot 10-for-29 from the field (1-for-11 3PT), and they trailed by 14 despite scoring 16 points in the paint. That turned around in the second half, as Iowa State shot 16-for-31 from the field and scored 31 points in the paint. Given the number of shooters they have on the floor, there are times when Iowa State falls in love with the perimeter shot and essentially bails out the defense.

That didn’t occur in the second half Saturday, and the result was Iowa State being able to take advantage of a Kansas front court that is without Cliff Alexander and despite his playing Perry Ellis doesn’t look to be 100 percent either. Morris (11 points, six assists) and Niang (19 points, five rebounds) combined to score 20 points in the second half, and players such as Jameel McKay (11 points, eight points), Abdel Nader (13 points) and Bryce Dejean-Jones (seven points) stepped forward as well.

Add in the fact that they were able to limit the Jayhawks to 26.3 percent shooting, and the reasons for Iowa State’s comeback aren’t difficult to pinpoint.

There’s no denying that Iowa State can be a team capable of making a run to the Final Four, and that appeared to be the case last season before Niang broke his foot in their NCAA tournament opener. But their “ceiling” will be determined by how consistent this group is in its approach. When Iowa State is disciplined offensively and uses proper spacing to attack defenses, they are incredibly tough to stop. And when that doesn’t occur, Iowa State essentially defends itself with the opposition needing to do little more than remain in front of them.

Iowa State’s offensive approach in the second half of Saturday’s game resulted in their winning another Big 12 tournament title. And they’ll need to stick to the principles that make them so difficult to slow down for longer stretches if they’re to play deep into the NCAA tournament. They’re certainly capable; the only question is whether or not they choose to do so.

No. 21 West Virginia struggles offensively in 20-point loss at No. 14 Iowa State

Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images
Leave a comment

In a matchup of two of the three teams that entered Saturday tied for second place in the Big 12, No. 14 Iowa State’s ability to put points on the board was the difference in their 79-59 win over No. 21 West Virginia. While the game was a bit closer than the final margin would lead one to believe, the Cyclones took control of the game with a 14-2 run to start the second half.

Fred Hoiberg’s Cyclones, one of the best offensive teams in the country, shot 56.5% from the field and outscored the Mountaineers 21-5 from the foul line. While Iowa State committed 16 turnovers, two fewer than the 18 they committed in the first meeting between the two teams (a 74-72 Cyclone win), the Cyclones finished Saturday’s game with fewer turnovers than West Virginia (19). Unlike the first meeting, in which West Virginia outscored Iowa State by three from the foul line, the Mountaineers were unable to cover up for their lackluster shooting by scoring in other areas.

Monte Morris led five Cyclones in double figures with 19 points, and Abdel Nader scored 16 points off the bench for Iowa State, which is now tied for second with Oklahoma. Juwan Staten led the Mountaineers with 16, but no other player managed to score more than nine and as a team they shot 37.9% from the field and 5-for-10 from the foul line.

Bob Huggins’ team plays incredibly hard, and the pressure defense has been a major factor in their resurgence after failing to play at the level most expected of them for most of their first two seasons in the Big 12. But they lack consistent shooters, and that’s something that gets West Virginia in trouble when they’re unable to rack up points from turnovers, second-chance opportunities and the foul line against superior offensive teams.

That was the case Saturday afternoon in Ames, and it makes Monday night’s game against No. 8 Kansas even more important.

The good news for West Virginia is that their schedule still has multiple opportunities to add to their NCAA tournament resume, with the Big 12 being considered by many as the toughest conference in the country from top to bottom. However they won’t be able to take advantage of those opportunities if they can’t get going offensively, which has been an issue in this current stretch of three losses in their last four games.

West Virginia shot 38 percent or worse in all three defeats, and winning is incredibly tough to do when shooting that poorly from the field. While there’s no issue with using your defense to spark the offense, West Virginia has to get better when they’re unable to rely on that plan.

Reserves step forward to help No. 17 Iowa State beat No. 14 West Virginia

Iowa State v Iowa
Leave a comment

In his first year of eligibility after sitting out the 2013-14 campaign per NCAA transfer rules, Iowa State forward Abdel Nader hasn’t been a consistent impact player for the Cyclones. Entering Saturday’s game at No. 14 West Virginia, the former Northern Illinois player averaged just 5.0 points and 3.3 rebounds in 15.9 minutes per game. However, it should be noted that in the Cyclones’ two true road victories Nader has been an important contributor.

Saturday night Nader scored 19 points off the bench, matching the 19 points he scored in a win at Iowa December 12, helping to lead the Cyclones to a 74-72 win over the Mountaineers in Morgantown. Nader, who made six of his eleven field goal attempts, also grabbed seven rebounds to lead a group of reserves who combined to contribute 29 points and 18 rebounds.

Jameel McKay, who finished with six points and seven rebounds, also blocked five shots and the contributions of he and Nader (Matt Thomas scored four points) helped Iowa State make up for quiet nights from both Bryce Dejean-Jones and Naz Long. The two starters combined to score just nine points, shooting 3-for-10 from the field and missing all seven of their three-point attempts.

Iowa State also outscored West Virginia 32-18 in the paint, with the Mountaineers finding the task of getting quality looks inside a difficult one at times. As a result West Virginia settled for perimeter shots, attempting 29 three-pointers (nine more than their season average, and they made just seven) and shooting just 32.4% from the field. Juwan Staten scored 23 points but needed 17 shots to do so, with Devin Williams adding 14 points and 15 rebounds in a losing effort.

Saturday’s game was tight throughout, with Iowa State leading by no more than eight points and West Virginia’s largest lead being a meager three points. But Iowa State’s reserves were the difference-makers, as McKay and Nader combined to score nine points during a 9-2 second half run that turned a one-point deficit (58-57) into a six-point lead (66-60) with 3:28 remaining. And while West Virginia would trim that lead to one point on two separate occasions, they were unable to regain the lead.

Even with all five starters averaging double figures, Iowa State’s going to need contributions from their three bench players in order to contend for a Big 12 title. Saturday night they received that help from Nader and McKay, and the result was a valuable conference road victory.