It wasn’t always pretty, but 14th-ranked Iowa State got the job done at home against a feisty Oakland team behind Georges Niang‘s incredible season debut.
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Niang finished with 30 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists. He couldn’t be contained by the Golden Grizzlies and did anything he wanted in the paint. He was aggressive, attempting the most shots of any Cyclone. He lived up to the billing of all the preseason hype surrounding him.
So did Bryce Dejean-Jones. who begins his Iowa State career with a double-double — 20 points and 11 rebounds along with 4 assists. His only downfall was going 0 for 2 from the perimeter, but his elusiveness that was on display against Viterbo was back.
The first half was marred by Oakland being successful in their gameplan against Iowa State. It wasn’t that the Cyclones played bad which kept the Golden Grizzlies around. It was tied at 38-all with about two minutes to go in the first half before ISU finally went on a 7-0 run to get some breathing room at half. Iowa State still scored 45 points; it was Oakland who was making shots, caught some breaks, and went 5 for 15 from the 3-point line while ISU started 1 for 6.
Nov 14, 2014; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones forward George Niang (31) drives to the basket against Oakland University Golden Grizzlies guard Kahlil Feider (20) in the second half at James H. Hilton Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Paul Halfacre-USA TODAY Sports
In the second half, the pace was slowed down considerably thanks to the refs calling absolutely everything. It became way too tight and the game turned into a sludge-fest. Oakland picked up five fouls in the first four minutes which made their mission to come back that more difficult.
Iowa State was able to slowly pull away. Before you know it, Niang and Naz Long made back-to-back 3’s to make it 72-56 with 8:21 to go. That essentially put any dagger in Oakland’s upset hopes.
The Cyclones certainly have some work to do, but it’s hard to be too upset over the opening game. Give credit to Oakland for playing a great game. The ISU starters ran the show offensively — all of them scored in double figures. They basically went seven-deep with Daniel Edozie and Sherron Dorsey-Walker coming off the bench with 18 minutes each, and just combining with four points. Monte Morris damn near played the whole game (37 minutes) and finished with 14 points, 3 assists, and 2 turnovers.
Some of the downfalls were the assists not being as high for Morris (the team had just 18 assists to 30 made field goals, which is uncharacteristic — Oakland had 21 assists on 29 made FGs) and the team making just 26 of 37 free throws. Iowa State suffered from missed 3-pointers and a slim margin of assists over turnovers, but they improved on it going 6-10 from the perimeter and having nine assists to two turnovers down the stretch.
Oakland was essentially ran by last year’s two starters, Kahlil Felder and Corey Petros, predictably. They finished with 23 and 25 points, respectively, and both played a combined 78 minutes. Petros went 10-of-12 from the field and flirted with a triple double — eight rebounds and six assists. Tommie McCune also had 14 points and 6 rebounds. He could have had a better game, but foul trouble limited him.
Iowa State will play against Georgia State on Monday night, which is expected to be a pretty good matchup. Tipoff is set for 7:00 PM Central time at Hilton Coliseum and it will be shown on ESPNU.