AMES — After what could have been a devastating loss to Texas Tech on Wednesday, Iowa State needed on the court leadership in the worst way.
According to freshman Georges Niang, fifth-year senior Korie Lucious stepped up to the plate.
“He called us out yesterday for a private team meeting” said Niang, who scored 15 points in the win. “He told us that if we play the way we know how to play, we are a tough team to beat. Coach has been stressing that the whole year. We did that and won the game today.”
Lucious responded from a poor game against Tech with a 10 point, eight assist day while going an efficient 3-of-4 from the field.
“He’s a big time player,” said Will Clyburn. “That’s what we expect out of him every game.”
Funny thing is, Iowa State’s head coach knew nothing about this player’s only meeting. Fred Hoiberg found out about it when everybody else did, when Niang spilled the beans in the postgame press conference.
“Usually when you have a private meeting you keep it private,” joked Hoiberg. “Korie has been so much better. I know that he was very disappointed in his play against Texas Tech. We just reverted back I thought to who we were early in the season.”
That wasn’t the case on Saturday. The Cyclones that Iowa State fans saw the first four games of the Big 12 season were back.
Bubu’s back: Junior Bubu Palo saw his first minutes of the season after sitting much of the year out due to a legal battle (in which all charges against him were dropped). Palo played 11 minutes while recording a rebound and an assist in the win.
“I thought that Bubu was good,” said Hoiberg. “He was getting pretty winded out there. We had to keep him to short stretches but that first stint, I thought he played terrific.”
No Booker: Senior big man Anthony Booker did not see the floor for Iowa State on Saturday.
“It was more about match-ups,” said Hoiberg. “They played four guards a lot of the game.”
New look Wildcats: What fans in a sold out Hilton Coliseum saw on Saturday wasn’t an old school Frank Martin coached basketball team. Gone are the days of Kansas State playing a strict 40 minutes of hoops. Bruce Weber’s team played a looser brand of basketball, one that Hoiberg appreciated.
“I love their offense. That stuff they run is extremely difficult to guard,” said Hoiberg. “They run handoffs. They are in constant motion and movement. It’s a little bit similar to how we play I think. You try to go out there and play unpredictable basketball. They get the most out of their guys.”
Stat: Only two teams have scored 70 points or more on Kansas State this season. Iowa State scored 73 on Saturday. The other? Soon to be top-ranked Michigan.
Georges Niang on losing to Texas Tech…
“Hopefully after this (press) conference we will stop talking about that loss. It definitely willed us though and we are happy to win today.”
Fred Hoiberg on Chris Babb’s defense…
“Give Chris Babb a lot of credit for slowing down (Rodney) McGruder. That kid is scoring it as well as any player in the country right now. Chris did a great job.”