The next game up on Iowa State’s docket is the Georgia State Panthers. This should be a relatively tough game against an energetic opponent so let us look at some of the potential impact players on both teams.
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For GSU we will start with R.J. Hunter. A swingman at 6-foot-6, he led the team in scoring last season with 18.3 points per game and chipped in almost five rebounds per contest. He shot nearly 40 percent from 3-point range and even racked up 63 steals, so he definitely has a nose for the ball.
As last season’s Sun Belt POY, he looks to retain his title. Given his all around skills, Georges Niang should be the primary defender, with Bryce Dejean-Jones spelling him when necessary.
Next up is guard Ryan Harrow. He figures to be the point man for the Panthers. Last season he was second on the team in scoring at 17.8 ppg and is the team’s returning assist leader as well (4.2 assists per game).
Outside of scoring he doesn’t have eye-popping stats, but has the experience to compete and the pedigree, having played at Kentucky earlier in his career. Monte Morris will be the man assigned to defend him through most of the night.
Mar 16, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; Georgia State Panthers forward Curtis Washington (42) dunks the ball past Louisiana Lafayette Ragin Cajuns forward Shawn Long (21) in the first half of the championship game of the Sun Belt Conference college basketball tournament at Lakefront Arena. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
I have mentioned former Louisville guard Kevin Ware, but more important than him is Georgia State’s big man, Curtis Washington. At 6’10” he is another tall task for the Cyclones until Jameel McKay becomes eligible. His stats from last season are very underwhelming, 7.5 ppg and 5.9 rebounds per game, but he did collect 78 blocks and could cause problems in the front court. Dustin Hogue will draw the majority of this assignment.
On the Iowa State side, I am putting the spotlight on Niang. Not only is he the best offensive weapon, but he’ll be going against a similarly-skilled player in Hunter. This matchup could decide the game, so keep a close eye on both men at the 3/4 position.
And finally, fans should watch Naz Long. He scored 10 points in the opener, but the Cyclones will need a consistent third option beyond Niang and Dejean-Jones, and Long is tailor-made to suit that with his shooting touch. It is entirely likely that the third scorer could rotate, but the second game could go along way in developing a more identifiable pecking order.
Be sure to follow all the Iowa State news on Clones Confidential, and go Cyclones!