Well, Alabama might be a challenge for anyone not named Kentucky this year.
In a game that was a potential blowout based on last season, Iowa State men’s basketball gutted out a victory over Alabama in a very pro-Cyclone crowd in Kansas City Monday night. Georges Niang led the way with 28 points (18 in the first half), six rebounds, and three assists.
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Niang again showed why he a preseason All-American with a variety of moves and soft shooting touch. He was joined by Matt Thomas‘ 13 and Dustin Hogue‘s 17 for the first road victory of the season. Naz Long also contributed 15 points.
The Crimson Tide started out gang busters from 3-point range, starting 3 for 6 to begin the game. They did revert to their below average ways, however, finishing 10 of 30 for the night. Rodney Cooper came out of nowhere to lead the team by scoring 27 points on 10 for 17 shooting, which far exceeded his season average of 7.3 ppg.
Leading scorer Levi Randolph finished with 18 points, but only went 6 for 17 from the field thanks to great team defense from Iowa State.
Nov 24, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Iowa State Cyclones guard Matt Thomas (21) shoots a jump shot during the first half against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Thomas, as one of my players to watch, definitely performed in his first game back from suspension. He shot extremely well from the field, going 5 for 6, played great defense at times, and handled the ball alongside Monte Morris for stretches. He is looking confident and ready to show off the skills that made him such a valuable recruit coming into last season. He’ll continue to be on the bench, but I see big things coming for the Wisconsin bomber.
Defense, stagnant offense, and slow starts continue to plague the team. Tonight was largely due to a different venue, trying to incorporate two more bodies into the rotation, and turning the ball over 15 total times. That’s uncharacteristic, and these issues shouldn’t linger in the long run.
The Cyclones take on Maryland tomorrow night at approximately 8:30 PM Central time, or 30 minutes after the conclusion of the Alabama-Arizona State consolation game. It will be televised on ESPNU, so everybody prepare for another exciting Iowa State basketball game.