Georges Niang scored 13 straight points in the first half, and Monte Morris picked up the slack in the second half with 19 points of his own as Iowa State defended Hilton Coliseum against Texas with an 85-75 win on a snowy Saturday night in Ames. Niang and Morris finished with identical stat lines as both men scored 24 points, collected 6 rebounds, and recorded 3 assists. Morris' 24 points matches his career high.
Things started fast early as Texas was content to run and Iowa State was content to break down Havoc in the fastest way possible. It quickly resulted in the Deonte Burton dunk many of us have been waiting for:
The teams traded punches through the first TV timeout and the second segment of the game. Jameel McKay checked in to the game during the second segment to a strong ovation from the Hilton crowd and he quickly made his presence known with a rebound and trip to the charity stripe on the next possession.
As the pace slowed down the Cyclones quietly built a 21-12 lead on the back of a strong offensive effort and sharp passing. However, Niang went to the bench for a breather and the Longhorns erased a nine point deficit in under three minutes before eventually taking a 24-21 lead on a Javan Felix three pointer. And then, well...
Niang right now. pic.twitter.com/PmJy7EJU7y— DANALYTICS (@WRNLKnowDan) February 14, 2016
Niang would make three straight three pointers that were book-ended by jumpers and have himself a nice little 13 point scoring streak as the only offense that was working for Iowa State. At the end of Niang's mini-run the Cyclones led 34-30 and controlled the game while heading in to halftime with a 36-34 lead.
Niang's hot hand naturally settled down in the second half as Texas focused on denying him the ball, but Morris picked up the slack by exploiting every mismatch he could find while going 7-9 from the field.
The Longhorns never led in the second half despite the repeated punches thrown by both teams as they seemingly traded bucket for bucket and three pointer for three pointer. However, it seemed every time Felix touched the ball that something bad was happening for Iowa State.
Repeated defensive lapses opened up lanes for Felix to get to the rack and no one who was guarding him; whether it be Matt Thomas, Abdel Nader, or Monte Morris, could keep up with his constant attack. Every time the Cyclones tried to put the game away it was Felix who either scored or created an opportunity for someone else, usually Tevin Mack, who finished with 18 points on 5-12 shooting from behind the arc.
Yet with 2:56 left it was one play that might have turned the tide of the game once and for all. Abdel Nader drove the lane with four fouls while in transition and bowled over Prince Ibeh with the Cyclones holding a 75-72 lead. In what many surely expected to be Nader's 5th foul and one of his classic charges; it was instead a blocking foul on Ibeh that sent the visitor to his bench permanently and Nader to the line. Nader made his two free throws, gave the Cyclones a five point lead, and Mack's tip in and free throw were the only points the Longhorns would score the rest of the way.
Although the Cyclones started poorly at the line (7-14 at one point), they made 10 of their last 11 and closed the door when Texas had no other option but to foul. Matt Thomas crossed the Austin Narber favorite "12 point barrier" with 13 points on only 1-2 shooting from downtown, and Abdel Nader collected 6 points and 8 rebounds to offset his 4 personal fouls. Deonte Burton chipped in 10 points, although most of those came in the first half and Burton once again spent significant portions of the second half on the bench.
The oft talked about senior came off the bench after serving his two game suspension and may have become the energy guy that this team has been looking for since Naz Long's injury. McKay's stat line of eight points, seven rebounds, and four blocks might not wow a person, but the effort that went in to that production was possibly his best since December. McKay was aggressive getting to the hoop and drawing fouls, he set picks when they needed to be, and he disrupted without necessarily blocking shots.
It was McKay's fly swatting attempts in the final four minutes that helped Texas go cold from the field late. If McKay can bring this effort the rest of the way then this team will surprise people in March.
Niang Scoring Watch
Niang's 24 points has brought him to within three points of Fred Hoiberg's 1,993 career points, which is 3rd on Iowa State's all-time scoring list, and a mark he should pass early against Baylor this week.
The Cyclones will travel to Waco on Tuesday in an attempt to extract revenge on Baylor for their victory in Hilton in January. That game will tip at 8:00 PM on ESPN 2. The Bears lost tonight to Texas Tech, 84-66