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Sunday, January 24, 2016

ISU’s Niang eager to renew rivalry with Embiid-less KU

Kansas center Joel Embiid battles for position with Iowa State defenders Georges Niang, left, and DeAndre Kane during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Joel Embiid battles for position with Iowa State defenders Georges Niang, left, and DeAndre Kane during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Iowa State senior forward Georges Niang has been involved in some epic basketball battles with Kansas University the past three years.

He has won three games — lost six — while pestering the Jayhawks on both the outside — where the 6-foot-8 senior forward can swish threes with the best of ’em — and on the inside, where he’s capable of finishing dunks, layups and short bank-shots alike.

“I can say it now that he’s gone. Joel Embiid was the toughest one (Jayhawk) to guard — 110 percent for sure,” Niang said, asked to reflect upon players in the KU-ISU series.

The two teams tangle again in a Big Monday battle at 8 tonight in Hilton Coliseum, with a live telecast on ESPN.

“Whatever he had was working for him,” Niang said of the 7-foot injured Philadelphia 76ers center.

Today, Niang will try to even his mark to 2-2 versus KU in Hilton Coliseum.

“The rivalry between KU and Iowa State has obviously stepped up a notch,” said Methuen, Mass., native Niang, who averages 18.3 points and 4.6 boards in nine games played against KU.

“We’re looking to prove ourselves, and they are trying to impose their will. The biggest thing is, I feel it’s a renewed rivalry the last couple years. I think it’s great for both programs,” Niang added.

Niang, who averages 19.3 points and 6.4 boards his senior season for the Cyclones (15-4, 4-3), was a high school teammate of KU junior Wayne Selden Jr. at Tilton School in New Hampshire.

“Yeah, that’s my guy. That’s my brother. I’ll always be close with him,” Niang said, speaking to the Journal-World at Big 12 Media Day. “He’s a great guy. When I talk to him, it’s beyond basketball. I try to stay away from talking basketball. I try to just ask him how he’s doing, how his family is doing and what’s going on with him.”

Selden respects prolific scorer Niang, who has hit 52.8 percent of his shots, 39.5 percent of his treys (32 of 81) in 2015-16.

“He can stretch the defense and has great touch inside,” Selden said. “He can put it on the floor. Inside and out, he has a real feel for the game.”

KU coach Bill Self likes to seek out Niang and joke with him at events such as Media Day.

“I told him I was a little bummed out I didn’t get invited to Late Night at the Phog. He told me I’d never get invited to that, so I guess that’s that,” Niang said. “He’s a good guy, a good sport. He’s a lot of fun to be around off the court.

“He definitely has a respect for me. I respect that because I have a ton of respect for him in what he’s done. He’s a great human being and a great coach. I appreciate all the respect he’s shown me.”

Of Niang, Self said: “He’s terrific, one of my favorite players in the league, without question. He’s probably as tough a matchup as there is.”

KU is 9-3 at Hilton in the Self era, losing last season’s game, 86-81.

“I feel it gets pretty wild and pretty nuts, just as juiced up as I’d think KU would be,” Niang said of games vs. KU in Ames. “I think the biggest thing is two teams competing, not wanting to see their team lose. If you have the hot hand, you will do what you can to not let your team lose. I think that’s what it really comes down to.”

NBA could wait: Niang, on why he returned to ISU for his senior season instead of leaving for the NBA: “It was the best thing for me to come back, work on myself. That UAB loss (in NCAA Round of 64) obviously stung (ISU was seeded 3, UAB 14). Why would I give up an opportunity to be with these guys and be able to compete for championships this year? That’s something I didn’t want to pass up, and I feel I wasn’t ready for the next level just yet.”

Road record: KU is 1-2 in Big 12 road games so far this season. “If you can go 5-4 on the road, you’ve had a helluva year — 4-5 would be a helluva year,” Self said. “Certainly we’re not off to a great start this year. The really good teams we’ve had ... you knew when you went on the road, if you played well, you’d win, and chances were, four of five you were going to play well. I don’t have that feeling with this team. ... When we do play together, we look really good. Sometimes we get really stale and out of character.”

About ISU: Monte Morris takes a 15.2 ppg average into today’s game. He has 130 assists to 29 turnovers. “He could be as good as any true point guard in the country,” Self said. Jameel McKay averages 13.2 ppg and 9.3 rpg. Matt Thomas has made 65 of 148 threes for 41.1 percent. ISU is 9-1 at home this season, losing only to Baylor, 94-89.

Road victory for Cyclones: Iowa State won at TCU, 73-60, on Saturday to improve to 2-2 on the road in league games.

“I haven’t heard the players talk about Kansas all week,” coach Steve Prohm said to the Des Moines Register after the game, “and I’m sure Kansas wasn’t talking about us until now. The league is too good to look ahead to anybody. I’ve got a lot of respect for their program, (but) we had to come here and take care of business. I’m glad we won. Now we’ve got to get home, rest tonight, meet tomorrow at 4:30 and get ready for Kansas Monday night.”

Comments

Suzi Marshall 4 years, 9 months ago

Ames....ugh.

Really happy to see the strong fan support the team gets in AFH. Without that strong home support on the road, this group makes a road game feel like an unavoidable date with disaster.

Hopefully the guys will return from Ames with determined effort vs UK.

Kent Richardson 4 years, 9 months ago

If we come out in la la land and struggle to score, as we seem to like doing, then disaster and tears along with the gnashing of teeth. I keep thinking we need Cyclone help in Ames unless we put up 80-85.

Brett McCabe 4 years, 9 months ago

We've averaged 65 points in our two road games. As you point out, ISU is averaging 80+ at home in conference. I wouldn't be surprised to see more of Hunter and Carlton tonight, to try and get some more offense on the floor.

Tony Bandle 4 years, 9 months ago

A loss to Iowa State will hurt, at least until the next conference game. A loss to Calipari in Allen will hurt forever. I'll settle for a split this week but hope for a sweep.

Thanks to my good friend, I'll be at the game Saturday. Tickets in his section are going for $2,000 apiece!! That's what I call a friend.

I promise to represent all of you and come home with no voice on Sunday. Just a note, KU has not lost a game I have attended in Allen in over 20 years and that's been at least one game a year. I intend to keep that streak intact.

Tony Bandle 4 years, 9 months ago

P.S. We must feel about Niang as our opponents feel about Ellis...it seems like they've both been playing for ten years!! :).

Suzi Marshall 4 years, 9 months ago

I'm writing off this ISU game (as I am at OU/UT). That would make 5 losses so sweeping at home and winning at BU/TCU/KSU are must wins. 13-5 could get a piece but 12-6 won't get it done.

I'm still on the fence about attending the UK game, with my two tickets.

Bryce Landon 4 years, 9 months ago

Self did say that the Big 12 champ (or co-champs) would likely have 5 losses.

Brett McCabe 4 years, 9 months ago

Nina seems like a first-class guy. I hope that he goes on to have a really good pro career.

Interestingly, I think that his old teammate Wayne Selden is our key to victory. We need Wayne to do what he's shown that he can do - drop in 24 to 28, make his free throws and lead this team. Without a big night from Wayne, I'm not sure where the points come from to keep up with ISU.

Kent Richardson 4 years, 9 months ago

I've got Perry Selden down for 45 and DeVonte Mason down for 25. That means Landon needs to up his offense a little.

Bryce Landon 4 years, 9 months ago

Niang is a flopper. Nothing first-class about that. But then again, there's no one in the Cry-Clown fan base worthy of being considered first-class.

Robert Brock 4 years, 9 months ago

I assume that Bragg and Diallo will get a lot of minutes. Let's hope that Cheick doesn't remind us of Cliff Alexander (Cliff revealed, in Ames, that he couldn't defend anybody on the perimeter).

Barry Weiss 4 years, 9 months ago

I hope they both do. I think McKay will give us fits down low.

Jay Scott 4 years, 9 months ago

It's a different matchup than Ibeh for sure. Traylor, Diallo and even Bragg are more suited to McKay (and Niang).

James Smith 4 years, 9 months ago

Psycho Jay still liking his own comments or I mean crap that he post.

Kent Richardson 4 years, 9 months ago

McKay has Landon's touch around the basket. Lol. However he will give Perry/Wayne/DeVonte and Frank fits.

Dale Koch 4 years, 9 months ago

Not sure we'll see much of the two freshman as I'm thinking the players meeting was all about having experience on the floor. Case in point, the UT game!!! Didn't see Diallo or Mickelson or Svi at all. Lucas and Traylor will be kee to stopping McKay.

Barry Weiss 4 years, 9 months ago

I hope the UT game short rotation is not the new norm. Our starters will be gassed and nicked up by year end if that's the case.

Michael Leiker 4 years, 9 months ago

This is just like Texas Tech calling themselves rivals with OU in football...OU's rivals are Alabama, Ohio State, USC, Texas, OSU. Just as KUs rivals are UK, UNC, Duke, UCLA, KSU. ISU has decades to go before they are KUs rival. Everybody in the league brings it for the KU game, but one team can't have a 85% winning percentage over a decade and have it be a rivalry.

Michael Leiker 4 years, 9 months ago

Anybody who buys a range rover after earning 872 bucks in 4 weeks needs to go see the folks at Menninger.

Kent Richardson 4 years, 9 months ago

I think she went to see the dude in the alley.

Harlan Hobbs 4 years, 9 months ago

It will be interesting to see if Diallo and Bragg do get much playing time tonight. I'm pretty sure that Bragg will, but I have to wonder about Diallo since he didn't get any Saturday against Texas.

If Diallo doesn't get any minutes tonight, it leads me to believe that he probably won't be back next year. Undoubtedly, many people are filling his head with thoughts of the draft, but I can't see him as a lottery pick by any stretch of the imagination. He certainly has that chance in future years if he stays in college, but money talks either here or abroad.

I hope that he can be patient. If he can, his day will come.

Jay Scott 4 years, 9 months ago

Diallo isn't a unique enough physical specimen to go first round in the NBA draft without at least some college success. NBA GM's all have Coach Self's phone number and value his input. If Diallo, as raw as he was, just needs another year, he'll be back.

Barry Weiss 4 years, 9 months ago

The thing I like about Diallo is you can see opponents altering their shots when he is in. He also is a rebounding machine, shot blocker, and hits a decent number of his shots. The things he does gets the home crowd juiced, just not sure why he does not get more minutes. The article on the vets meeting with Self made it sound like the vets prefer Landon and Jamari , maybe thats it.

Kent Richardson 4 years, 9 months ago

This is the same vets who can't stop dribble penetration or make bunnies. Whatever. Bombs away!!!

Justin Daniel 4 years, 9 months ago

This team lacks the leadership of the previous KU teams that have won in Ames. I hope they prove me wrong, but I just don't see this one going in favor of the Hawks.

Brianna Zaleski 4 years, 9 months ago

It was a fun year watching Niang be so completely intimidated by Embiid. After the first couple of blocks, Jo was so deep into his head, he was a different player. I think it's revealing that he has admitted as such.

Harlan Hobbs 4 years, 9 months ago

Jay, I agree that Cheick would be making a huge mistake not to return. I'm just puzzled by the fact that he started at Stillwater but didn't play even a minute against Texas. I do think that we need him for KU to make a significant run in the NCAA because, otherwise, we are the same team as last year, minus Kelly Oubre. Fortunately, the core returnees from last year are playing better, but I don't think we can move very far without a post presence on defense.

If he can rebound and defend, that might be enough. After all, Landon Lucas played a major role on Saturday without scoring a point. I believe that he had 10 rebounds and held his own on the defensive end.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 9 months ago

I'm willing to bet that Diallo already thinks he's made a huge mistake.

Kay Jensen 4 years, 9 months ago

Remember when Elijah destroyed ISU in Ames and made those kids cry? I want that tonight.

Justin Daniel 4 years, 9 months ago

We haven't had a leader at KU since Elijah and Travis left. I was a critic of Elijah and Tyshawn, but I am willing to admit when I was wrong and would give anything to have them back.

Kevin Boone 4 years, 9 months ago

Wish we had a shot blocker....an inside presence. Who's Diallo?

Barry Weiss 4 years, 9 months ago

Pretty sad. Its been a long time since we have watched a KU team that gets a total of 2 points out of two games from our 5 position. I'm sort of thinking its time to dump the Landon Lucas starting at center and develop Diallo. Heck, what can we lose for crying out loud. We are not losing by 2 points, we are getting blown out with these veterans. its just not working.

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