Iowa State’s last two games, a home victory vs. West Virginia and a road loss to Kansas State, have been complete opposites in terms of offensive production.
The Cyclones’ 83-66 revenge win against the Mountaineers was a great shooting night, as the team went 50 percent from the floor and 45 percent from downtown. Compare that with West Virginia’s struggles (35 percent from the floor and 25 percent from three point range) and the result is easy to explain.
The win was especially impressive for Iowa State, as they played the majority of the second half without star forward Melvin Ejim, who had run into some foul trouble. Georges Niang, DeAndre Kane, Dustin Hogue, and Naz Long picked up the slack en route to the win. Niang led with 24 points, Kane had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Long contributed 15 points off the bench.
Saturday’s 80-73 loss at Kansas State flipped the script on ISU shooting. The team shot like West Virginia did against them: 35 percent shooting, 26 percent from the floor. Almost their entire offense game from Ejim and Kane. Ejim just went off, accumulating 30 points and 16 rebounds. Kane played 39 minutes and finished with 24 points on 7-13 shooting, but beyond those two, the Cyclones couldn’t get anything going.
Georges Niang was especially awful on Saturday, going 3-14 from the court and finishing with a meager 8 points. He had several air balls in the second half, and every time he went up for a shot during the last ten minutes I physically winced because I already knew what the result was going to be.
Iowa State definitely beat itself on Saturday, because it wasn’t like Kansas State was having the game of the season. Kansas State had two players reach 12 points, but no one scored higher than that. One of the keys to Kansas State holding on was free throw execution; the Wildcats converted 23 of their 29 shots at the line, while the Cyclones went just 20 for 30. Several misses came at crucial points in the second half, when Iowa State was only down a bucket or less. Dustin Hogue, for example, missed three straight free throws that would’ve given Iowa State the lead because it was only a one possession game at the time. Free throws have been a problem for Iowa State all year, and their inability to cash them in when it counted in the second half really hurt them.
Iowa State visits Baylor tomorrow night, with tip-off set for 7 PM ET.