Survive and advance. That’s the mission for every team in the NCAA tournament, and Iowa State did that in an unbelievable 85-83 victory against North Carolina on Sunday.
Without the aid of Georges Niang, the Cyclones (28-7) looked to Naz Long and DeAndre Kane to close things out. Iowa State was on the ropes down 72-64 with 5:27 to go in the game, and North Carolina had all of the momentum. That’s when Long nailed one of his deadliest four 3-point shots to keep the Cyclones within five points. He made another 3-pointer to bring it back to a five-point deficit, 76-71, with 3:47 to go.
Long’s fourth, and final one of the game, came at the most important time – to tie it up at 81 apiece with 50 ticks left on the clock.
The next Iowa State basket came after a Melvin Ejim steal on the other end, taking it away from Iowa native Marcus Paige. Ejim throws an outlet pass to Kane, who was at the other end of the floor without a Tar Heel in the same zip code. He puts in a layup to give the lead to the Cyclones.
James Michael McAdoo, who had a whale of a game after a slow start, made two clutch free throws to tie it up at 83. He was 53.6 percent from the free throw line this season.
But it wasn’t enough for North Carolina. Kane redeemed himself after turning it over while going inside for the final play in the first half, and went inside for a huge layup to leave just 1.6 seconds left on the clock.
Paige received the inbound and tried to get a timeout called at the other end of the court, presumably looking up and thinking there was enough time on the clock. However, the clock didn’t start on time on the inbound pass. After a review, the officials determined that enough time ran off the clock to call the game.
Iowa State grabbed the 85-83 victory without North Carolina taking a final shot. And the refs got the call 100 percent correct.
Four of the Cyclones’ starters scored 13 or more points. Kane led the way with a double-double, 24 points and 10 rebounds. He also had seven assists, and this is another game where Kane has come close to a triple-double. Dustin Hogue had 14 points and seven rebounds, hitting clutch shots at the free throw line (7-of-9). Ejim had 19 points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block.
Monte Morris wasn’t an assist machine, but he finished with 13 points, including shooting 3-of-4 from downtown.
The Tar Heels (24-10) saw all five starters score in double-digits. Paige finished with 19 points but led the team with four turnovers. Kennedy Meeks was a beast all game with a double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds. McAdoo started off slow, missing his first six shots, but finished 5-of-8 with 14 points and seven rebounds.
Brice Johnson‘s injury took away a lot of the needed depth for North Carolina. They had six players come of the bench, but just six points to show for it.
Iowa State moves on to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament. They will head to New York City to play at Madison Square Garden against Conneticut, who they beat handily two years ago. It will take place on Friday night with a tip-off time yet to be determined.