We knew Thursday's top-20 showdown between Iowa State and Arkansas was going to be a high-scoring affair, but can anyone honestly say they saw an 18-point Cyclone victory? Iowa State played one of the most dominant first halves in recent memory and managed to fight off Arkansas in the second stanza en route to a 95-77 victory.
Fred Hoiberg's crew didn't just control the opening 20 minutes; they destroyed Arkansas. Iowa State led 52-32 at the break and shot better than 60% from the floor in the first half, which all but secured the victory. The Razorbacks did grind out a second-half comeback, but never got it to closer than 11 and in the end, had no answer for the hot-shooting Cyclones.
Georges Niang and Bryce Dejean-Jones matched each other shot for shot as Niang scored 26 points on 9-12 shooting (2-3 from outside) while Dejean-Jones turned in a next-level performance, leading Iowa State with 27 points while going a perfect 8-8 from the floor. Had it not been for one missed free thrown, Dejean-Jones wouldn't have missed a shot all night, but alas, 7-8 from the stripe will have to do. It should also be noted that Niang dished out 8 assists and grabbed 6 rebounds and this was the third time in 6 games that Niang has gone for 20+.
Getting 53 points from your top two players is great, but this was a total team win. All five starters scored in double figures and Naz Long, Monte Morris and Dustin Hogue all chipped in timely baskets. The bench rotation of Abdel Nader, Matt Thomas and Daniel Edozie didn't light up the scoreboard, but did provide solid minutes and production throughout the night.
For the game, Iowa State shot 64% from the floor and 52.6% from outside. ISU was also 21-27 from the line and dished out 19 assists to only 12 turnovers. Arkansas came into the game as one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country, but had an average night from outside, hitting just 9-25 attempts. The Hogs took much better care of the ball in the second half, but 9 first half turnovers helped key Iowa State's impressive opening effort.
With the win, Iowa State has now won 24-straight non-conference games in Hilton Coliseum and is 11-2 in their last 13 games against ranked opponents in Ames. The Cyclones return to the hardwood on Tuesday night at home against UMKC.