With his career as a Cyclone entering its final chapter, Georges Niang has two more opportunities to lace 'em up in Hilton Coliseum and take in Hilton Magic. It's almost unfathomable to accept that we're at this point, but we're 80 game minutes away from seeing the last of Niang in the home whites in Ames.
Niang is already the winningest player in Cyclone history (94 wins) and holds a 58-5 career mark in Ames. It's been a truly incredible journey and over the next few days, you're going to read dozens of tribute pieces, highlighting Niang's remarkable career as one of the most beloved Cyclones ever.
Celebrate and cherish all of it.
There has been no shortage of great talents to come through Ames and there have been even more big personalities, but there has never been a player like Niang, who so brilliantly blends the talent with the personality. Iowa State couldn't ask for a better ambassador as a student-athlete and the Cyclone fan base couldn't conjure up a more perfect fit to represent what it truly means to be a Cyclone.
The home farewell tour starts Saturday as Iowa State hosts Kansas State and the bittersweet ending comes about 48 hours later as the Cyclones wrap up the home schedule against Oklahoma State.
The Prior Meeting
In what was the most complete road performance of the year for the Cyclones, Iowa State used a 15-0 first half run to build a 26-9 lead and managed to keep Kansas State at arm's length for the remainder of the contest, winning 76-63.
The rebounding, turnover and free throw numbers were mostly even for both sides, but the Wildcats simply couldn't keep pace offensively, hitting just 37.7% of their looks from the floor, including a dreadful 19% from outside. Iowa State, however, shot 37.5% from deep and 50.9% overall, which are both fairly standard figures for the Cyclones.
The scoring was fairly balanced for Iowa State, though Monte Morris led the team in scoring with 19 points. Georges Niang chipped in 15 points and 6 rebounds, while Abdel Nader (14 points) and Matt Thomas (11 points) also notched double figures. Jameel McKay finished with 8 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks and while Jordan Ashton and Deonte Burton combined to only score 9 points off the bench, they did play 35 minutes in relief.
Justin Edwards was the only Wildcat to really get any type of offensive rhythm going and finished with 19 points. Wesley Iwundu and Kamau Stokes also hit double figures for Bruce Weber's unit.
So Who Wins?
No chance in hell does Iowa State lose either of these last two home games. No. Chance. In. Hell.
Kansas State is just 1-6 on the road in Big 12 play with that lone win coming in Fort Worth, where pretty much everybody wins (except TCU). The Wildcats are a gritty bunch and always play the Cyclones close in Ames, but Iowa State has won four straight in Hilton Coliseum.
True to form, Weber has crafted a team that hangs its hat on the defensive end of the floor. K-State ranks 13th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to kenpom.com. Unfortunately, they don't have an offense to pair with their ability to get stops and the result has been a 4-11 conference record to date.
The Wildcats will go 9-deep and are led by the upperclassmen duo of Justin Edwards and Wesley Iwundu. The explosive Edwards leads K-State in scoring with 12.3 points per game and also pulls down 5.8 rebounds per contest. Iwundu, does a little bit of everything, scoring 12.0 points a night while grabbing 4.6 rebounds and dishing out 3.6 assists.
The offensive bugaboo that has plagued Kansas State has been driven by the fact that this team does not shoot it well from outside at all and turns the ball over far too much. The three biggest offensive contributors in Edwards, Iwundu and Kamau Stokes combine to average more than 7 turnovers.
The fact is, Kansas State may try to muck up this game to slow Iowa State's prolific offensive attack (3rd nationally) and they may even have some success, but there's just too much firepower in the Cyclone arsenal. I think we see a solid effort out of Iowa State on Saturday evening and the Cyclones get to the 20-win plateau for the 5th consecutive season.
Iowa State 81 - Kansas State 73
Tip: 5 PM CST
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network
Cyclones.com Game Notes: Available here
Kansas State SB Nation Site: Bring On the Cats