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Three Key Takeaways.
- Lack of Depth A Positive. Assuming you can stay healthy and out of foul trouble, any reasonably well-conditioned team is not going to get tired in a tournament with three-minute timeouts, coach’s timeouts, longer halftimes and an assortment of monitor reviews. So if you’ve got five guys who are clearly better than the rest of your guys, why not play them all the time? Clearly Steve Prohm buys into this theory. Only three teams in the nation this year play their bench fewer minutes than Iowa State, and that’s a good thing. That means more minutes for guys like Georges Niang, Monte Morris, Abdel Nader, Matt Thomas and Jameel McKay, all of whom have averaged double figures this year and did so again today. In today’s up-tempo game (78 possessions), with the Cyclones maintaining a solid lead throughout, the bench earned a total of 29 minutes resulting in two points. Going forward, however, expect the Cyclones to gain an advantage by getting their best guys the most possible run.
- Die By The Three. Coming into the game, Iona was shooting 44.2 percent of its field goal attempts from three-point range, good for 20th in the nation, knocking them in at a 37.2 percent rate (57th in the nation). Three guys (A.J. English, Isaiah Williams and Deyshonee Much) had made at least 77 three-pointers coming into today, even if most of those were in tiny MAAC gyms in front of a few thousand fans. In the Pepsi Center today on a national stage, the Gaels shot just 2-of-13 from three in the first half in allowing a 12-point deficit. In the second half, things were a little better (5-of-11), but the damage had already been done.
- A Better Version Of Themselves. Iowa State is a great offensive team (third in the nation in offensive efficiency) that likes to play uptempo (53rd in tempo). Iona is built around its ability to get up and down the court (45th in tempo) and score efficiently (68th in offensivce efficiency). But in this game, it was just a matter of the Cyclones having bigger and better players doing the same types of things. Iona coach Tim Cluess put it simply: “When you play teams at this level, they’re going to have guys who are bigger, stronger and better playing basketball.” For Iona to have had a great chance in this round, they were going to have to play a team with a different style. Throw in struggles from three and an inability to get to the line, and Iowa State moves on.
Star of the Game. Georges Niang. Iowa State’s senior All-American does everything for the Cyclones, and today was no different as he led all scorers with 28 points. Early in the second half, when the Cyclones had turned it over on three consecutive possessions against the press leading to transition baskets, it was Niang’s open court ability to handle the ball that settled Iowa State down and forced Iona out of its press.