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Getting to know the No. 11 Cyclones

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Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg watches late in the second half on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg watches late in the second half on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

Having “The Mayor” back in Ames, Iowa, has done wonders for Iowa State’s basketball program.

Fred Hoiberg, who averaged 17.4 points and 6.1 rebounds in nine games against Kansas as a player, now coaches the Cyclones, and has helped them earn three straight NCAA Tournament berths.

ISU (12-3 overall, 2-1 Big 12, ranked No. 11 in the nation) is well on its way to a fourth March Madness appearance in a row. Few things give The Mayor’s constituents at Hilton Coliseum more joy than beating Kansas (14-2, 3-0, No. 9) — something Hoiberg did in uniform four times in nine games between 1992 and 1995.

But the fifth-year coach enters tonight’s primetime showdown with the Jayhawks holding a 2-7 record against the team he loved to beat as a player.

Iowa State is 8-0 this season at Hilton Coliseum, including wins over Arkansas (currently No. 19) and Oklahoma State (No. 24). The Cyclones have won 15 in a row at home, dating back to last season.

Since Hoiberg began manning ISU’s sideline, the Cyclones resurgence has thrived because of his free-wheeling offense. Iowa State averages 79.9 points a game this season and has put up 90 or more points 25 times in the Hoiberg era.

Five Cyclones average double figures in scoring, and ISU’s effective field-goal percentage (which takes into account 3-point shots being worth more than 2-pointers) of 55.8 is 12th nationally.

With all of that in mind, here are the Cyclones KU has to worry about as it tries to stay unbeaten in Big 12 play.

CYCLONES STARTERS

No. 31 — Georges Niang, 6-8, junior F

Iowa State forwards Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim celebrate the Cyclones' win over Kansas State on Thursday, March 13, 2014 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. They will face Kansas in the semifinal round of the Big 12 Tournament on Friday.

Iowa State forwards Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim celebrate the Cyclones' win over Kansas State on Thursday, March 13, 2014 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. They will face Kansas in the semifinal round of the Big 12 Tournament on Friday. by Nick Krug

The Big 12’s fifth-leading scorer (14.9 points per game) can play inside and outside, making him a difficult matchup for many teams, and Hoiberg uses him in a variety of ways.

Niang averages 5.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists, making him one of 20 players nationally to average at least 14 points, five boards and three assists.

Since the start of Big 12 play, the forward has only scored 10 vs. Oklahoma State, 16 at West Virginia and 10 at Baylor.

The preseason All-Big 12 selection averages 17.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists in six previous meetings with Kansas.

Plus, Niang might have even more incentive to torment KU, considering what happened to him the last time ISU faced the Jayhawks:

Iowa State forward Georges Niang lies on the floor bleeding from a gash above his eye suffered late in the second half on Friday, March 14, 2014 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Iowa State forward Georges Niang lies on the floor bleeding from a gash above his eye suffered late in the second half on Friday, March 14, 2014 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. by Nick Krug

hoop-math.com nugget: As a team, the Cyclones really finish well inside (74.2% on FGs at the rim, third in the nation). They’re so good, in fact that Niang’s 64.4% shooting at the rim is one of the worst among rotation players. Niang has converted 29 of 45 from point-blank range.

No. 13 Bryce Dejean-Jones, 6-6, senior G

A graduate-transfer from UNLV, he is yet another example of an experienced college veteran plugged in as a difference-maker by Hoiberg.

The Big 12’s preseason Newcomer of the Year is eighth in the league in scoring (12.9 points) and leads Iowa State in rebounding (5.9). Like Niang, though he plays off the ball, he can set other Cyclones up, too (3.1 assists).

Dejean-Jones scored 14 points in ISU’s loss at Baylor, giving him a double-figure outing for the first time in five games.

He’s the only Cyclone with more than one double-double this season (two, vs. Oakland and Lamar).

Connecting on 48.8% of his shots, he’s one of three ISU players in the top four of the Big 12 in field goal percentage.

1st. Dustin Hogue, ISU, 60.4%

2nd. TaShawn Thomas, OU, 56.5%

3rd. Bryce Dejean-Jones, ISU, 53.3%

4th. Naz Long, ISU, 48.8%

5th. Frank Mason III, KU, 48.2%

Inside the 3-point line, he’s a 63.3% shooter, thanks in part to 14 dunks. Dejean-Jones has hit 14 of 41 3-pointers. And he’s the Cyclones’ third-best free-throw shooter (79.6%).

— hoop-math.com nugget: His scoring versatility shows in his shot selection. 33.3% of Dejean-Jones shots have come at the rim, 32.5% on 2-point jumpers and 34.2% from 3-point range.

No. 15 — Naz Long, 6-4, junior G

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvO29Yf4zb4

As he showed in Iowa State’s loss at Baylor — 5-for-5 3-point shooting — Long has the perfect last name, because he’s the team’s best outside shooter.

Long has knocked in 43 of his 101 3-point attempts (42.6%), which makes him all the more difficult to keep in check on the perimeter. He’s fourth in the Big 12 in 3-point shooting percentage, and second in 3-point makes, behind Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield (47).

He’s knocked in five or more 3-pointers in a game four times this season.

Last season, as a backup, he proved critical in crunch time, with a 3-pointer at Oklahoma State that sent the game to double-overtime, and another vs. OSU at Hilton Coliseum that forced OT.

— hoop-math.com nugget: He has been Iowa State’s most effective shooter. Long’s eFG% is 65.5%, leading ISU’s rotation players.

No. 22 — Dustin Hogue, 6-6, senior F

Kansas forward Perry Ellis defends against a shot from Iowa State forward Dustin Hogue during the first half on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis defends against a shot from Iowa State forward Dustin Hogue during the first half on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

Last season, his first at ISU, he averaged 10.7 points and 8.0 rebounds against Kansas.

Hogue doesn’t often take 3-pointers, but he makes his attempts count when he does. The forward has made 9 of 18 from deep on the season, as well as 4 of his last 6.

When ISU beat Oklahoma State, he scored all 17 of his points in the second half, went 7-for-7 in the final 20 minutes, scored Iowa State’s final seven points and blocked a 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds left to give the Cyclones a 63-61 win in their league opener.

Hogue’s 24 offensive rebounds lead the team.

He only scored 5 points and had 5 rebounds in ISU’s loss at Baylor.

— hoop-math.com nugget: Somewhat surprisingly, Hogue only has 7 put-backs this season. And just 4.9% of his attempts at the rim have come on the offensive glass.

No. 11 — Monté Morris, 6-2, sophomore G

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe looks to strip the ball from Iowa State guard Monte Morris during the first half on Friday, March 14, 2014 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe looks to strip the ball from Iowa State guard Monte Morris during the first half on Friday, March 14, 2014 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. by Nick Krug

No one playing college basketball right now is better at taking care of the rock than Monté Morris. His 5.6 assist-to-turnover ratio is best in the land.

Averaging 5.6 assists a game, he has relinquished possession just 15 times in 490 minutes. Nine different times in his career, the sophomore has dished at least five assists without turning it over.

He has never had back-to-back games with two or more giveaways.

Last year in three games vs. Kansas, the then-freshman ball-handler had 1 turnover in 98 minutes and averaged 7.3 points.

Defensively, Morris leads Iowa State, with 24 steals (Dejean-Jones has 22 in one less game played).

ESPN’s Seth Greenberg recently named him the best point guard in the nation.

— hoop-math.com nugget: As good as the point guard is at running the team and setting others up, Morris also can score inside. He has shot 31-for-41 on shots at the rim (75.6%).

CYCLONES BENCH

No. 1 — Jameel McKay, 6-9, junior F

Another transfer (from Marquette, where he never played a game after joining the program as a junior college recruit), McKay gained eligibility on Dec. 20 and has averaged 8.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in six games since.

Despite his brief time in the lineup, he’s the only Cyclone with double-digit blocks (16). He has swatted 3.7 blocks in Big 12 games, to lead the conference.

In ISU’s win at West Virginia, McKay turned back five Mountaineers shots.

— hoop-math.com nugget: He’s the only guy who will play meaningful minutes and not take a 3-pointer (0 attempts this season). McKay primarily lives in the paint, with 69.7% of his shots coming at the rim. He makes 69.6% of them.

No. 2 — Abdel Nader, 6-6, junior F

After back-to-back scoreless outings, Nader busted out at West Virginia, with a 19-point night and 7 rebounds.

A former leading scorer at Northern Illinois, the Cyclones are deep enough to bring him off the bench, and he averages 6.1 points in just 16.5 minutes.

He made a season-high 4 3-pointers on 6 tries in ISU’s at Iowa.

— hoop-math.com nugget: He’ll settle for 3-point shots (44.1% of his attempts come from long range) and so far he has only made 3-pointers (6 of 30) when a teammate assists him.

No. 21 — Matt Thomas, 6-4, sophomore G

With 15 3-pointers this season, he has one more outside make than Dejean-Jones in 9.4 fewer minutes a game.

Thomas only played seven minutes and scored 1 point at Baylor. But two games earlier, he scored 10 in 22 minutes against Oklahoma State, when he made 2 of 3 from 3-point range.

The sophomore averages 5.8 points in 18.3 minutes a game, and only has 7 turnovers in 238 minutes. He’s no Morris, but that’s not too shabby.

— hoop-math.com nugget: Only Long is more likely to take 3-pointers than Thomas. 66.7% of his 69 shot attempts this season have come behind the arc. All but one of his 15 makes have been assisted.

Comments

Al Martin 7 years, 8 months ago

How can Niang be a junior? Seems like he's been hitting threes against us for about a decade.

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