An uncharacteristically poor shooting display ended Iowa State’s hopes at a deep tournament run, as they fell to the UConn Huskies 81-76 this evening.
UConn, on the other hand, shot lights out. The Huskies went 26-50 from the field (52 percent), 9-19 from deep (47 percent), and 20-22 from the charity stripe (91 percent). DeAndre Daniels had an incredible and surprising performance tonight, leading UConn with 27 points and ten rebounds. Shabazz Napier sunk four of six threes en route to 19 final points, and Ryan Boatright had a perfect night at the free throw line, finishing with 16 points.
Iowa State looked pedestrian from the field, especially in the first half, managing only 26 points. They came back with some fire in the latter twenty minutes, putting up 50, but it just wasn’t enough to overcome the Huskies’ great night from the floor. Seniors DeAndre Kane and Melvin Ejim finished their careers in somewhat embarrassing fashion. And for guys that had such great seasons this year, especially Ejim, you hate to see them finish the way they did tonight. Ejim went 3-13 from the field to finish with seven points, adding eight boards. Kane was 6-18 from the field and an abysmal 2-9 from the line. His final line was 16 points, ten assists, and nine rebounds. But the 16 points sure don’t feel like much, the way he played.
Kane’s missed free throws led to Iowa State going 6-15 from the line (40 percent). Really? 40 percent? Are you kidding me? That is unacceptable for a Sweet 16 game, because guess what? Iowa State only lost by five; those nine missed free throws could have gone a heck of a long way.
But I digress.
The one bright spot was Dustin Hogue’s performance. He carried the team on his back, amassing an astounding 34 points on 15-19 shooting. He’ll be a definite leader on next year’s squad.
This game was just so frustrating, because the whole time I knew Iowa State was better than that. The shots just weren’t falling like they were for UConn. No one besides Hogue could get anything going, and it’s sad to see the road end for this Iowa State team who looked so good going into the tournament. But there are just those nights where you don’t have it, and tonight, clearly the Cyclones didn’t have it.
This team should overall be proud of what they accomplished this season. I mean, this was Iowa State’s first Sweet 16 in 14 years. And though Ejim and Kane won’t be back, the majority of this squad will be. Fred Hoiberg will keep up his stellar recruiting job, and Iowa State will be back in the Sweet 16 before we know it.
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