Dec 2, 2013; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones forward Georges Niang (31) chases down a lose ball during their game with the Auburn Tigers at James H. Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones beat the Tigers 99-70. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
For a second straight game, Iowa State had to find a way to come back after being down and outplayed for nearly the entire game against an in-state rival. It looked like Iowa was going to leave Hilton Coliseum with a victory until under two minutes left, and the magic returned once again.
Georges Niang had a career-high once again on offense for the Cyclones (8-0), scoring 24 points with five assists. He made 8 of 10 free throws on the night while going 8 of 15 from the field. Melvin Ejim shot the exact same from the field, finishing with 22 points and seven rebounds.
The Hawkeyes (10-2) had an 82-77 lead with 1:29 remaining in the game, but that would be all they would score in the game. Niang was able to sink two free throws after missing his previous two in a row. The Cyclones forced a turnover after Jarrod Uthoff missed a jumper, which led to two more free throws by Ejim.
Ejim committed a foul on Roy Devyn Marble in the next possession, but the Hawkeye missed the front end of a one-and-one, which led to Niang layup after Dustin Hogue picked up a defensive rebound.
Now with 13 seconds left and a one-point lead, Iowa State watched Mike Gesell try to give the lead back to Iowa at the free throw line. He missed them both, and Hogue would sink the final two points at the line to keep the Cyclones undefeated on the season.
Dec 13, 2013; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones forward Georges Niang (31) drives baseline and scores over Iowa Hawkeyes Aaron White (30) to give the Cyclones the lead in the final seconds of the game at James H. Hilton Coliseum. Iowa State beat Iowa 85-82. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
In the first half, Iowa State was horrendous on transition defense, leaving Iowa open in the paint on many possessions. Aaron White was damn near unstoppable for the Hawkeyes with 25 points and 17 rebounds, and he missed just four of 15 field goal attempts. Adam Woodbury impressed with 11 boards, but dealt with foul trouble and later fouled out in the game.
Uthoff had foul trouble early on the game, which was a problem for the Hawkeyes in general throughout the first half, but the bench leader didn’t have his normal night dominating. That’s because players like Ejim and Hogue rose to the occasion in the second half.
While Niang deserves the game ball, part of it should go to Hogue for how he battled back into the game. He had nine rebounds early with no points, but he finished with a double-double: 12 points and 16 rebounds.
DeAndre Kane played facilitator again as he struggled offensively. He had five points on just 1 of 6 field goals made and 3 of 5 free throws, but he had nine of the teams’ 19 assists.
Overall, both teams moved the ball incredibly well. Both teams finished with 19 assists; that’s 38 assists on 60 made field goals.
Some things that Iowa State will need to fine tune is the transition defense, getting a better start from 3-point range (made just 2 of 10 before finishing 6 of 17), and not having another night like that from the free-throw line (made just 23 of 36 attempts).
It will be nine days until the Cyclones are back in action. They’ll play three games in four days during the Diamond Head Classic at Honolulu, Hawai’i, over Christmas.