With Bryce Dejean-Jones serving a one-game suspension No. 14 Iowa State arrived in Iowa City for its game against in-state rival Iowa shorthanded. How much would that matter against an Iowa team that to this point in the season has shown signs of making progress on the defensive end of the floor? Not much at all, as the Cylcones pulled away for the 90-75 win thanks in large part to a 24-4 run to open the second half.
Iowa had its chances in the first half, as Iowa State’s Georges Niang managed to score just two points on 1-for-8 shooting. However other players stepped forward for Fred Hoiberg’s team, and as a result the Cyclones took a five-point lead into the intermission.
Abdel Nader, who entered the game shooting 0-for-9 from three, hit three three-pointers in the first half and Naz Long did as well. Add in eight points and three assists from Monte Morris (he now has 47 assists and just six turnovers on the season) and Dustin Hogue’s nine rebounds, and Iowa State managed to hang onto their lead in spite of Niang’s slow start. And once the the junior forward, who finished the game with 16 points, seven assists and six rebounds, got going the Cyclones pulled away.
As a team Iowa State shot better than 53 percent from the field, and their unselfishness on the offensive end caused trouble for Iowa for much of the night. Five players scored in double figures (Long scored 21 to lead the way), and 22 of the Cyclones’ 34 made field goals were assisted. Iowa entered the game ranked among the best teams in America in field goal percentage defense, with opponents shooting just 33.7% from the field.
Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes that production didn’t carry over into Friday’s game, as Iowa State’s ball and player movement proved to be too much for Fran McCaffery’s team to overcome. Iowa State scored 40 of its 90 points in the paint, and when they weren’t finding looks inside the Cyclones knocked down plenty from beyond the arc.
Iowa State will welcome back Dejean-Jones for their next game, and in eight days Jameel McKay becomes eligible to play. There’s plenty of room for growth for Iowa State moving forward, and given Hoiberg’s success in Ames it would be a surprise if said growth didn’t occur. Iowa State may not be a team that can roll out ten players without breaking a sweat, but they don’t lack for options either.
With Niang kept quiet for a half the Cyclones needed other contributors to step forward, and that’s exactly what happened.