Cyclones hold off pesky Eagles in classic sandwich game

AMES — The deck was stacked against Iowa State heading into Tuesday night’s 83-72 win over a pretty decent Florida Gulf Coast team. 

Coming off of an emotional win over BYU on Saturday, a scrappy, above average and confident mid-major program that already had a big win (Miami) on its resume was a classic sandwich game leading up to Friday’s anticipated road trip to Carver Hawkeye Arena. 

The win wasn’t pretty. Iowa State turned the ball over too many times (we’ll get to that in 3 Down) and needed a 15-1 run toward the tail end of the first period to even lead at the half. Time and time again, those scrappy screaming Eagles made this one intersting. 

But talent won out. Florida Gulf Coast had to work way too hard for baskets and Iowa State shot 52 percent from 3-point range. The Cyclones are now 6-2 heading into Friday’s tussle with Iowa.

Here’s your recap.   

Player of the Game

Korie Lucious – The senior point guard has tallied nine assits in two games in a row. Against Florida Gulf Coast, Lucious shot the ball as well as we’ve seen all season long, making five of Iowa State’s season-high 13 3-pointers. 

“Every time I step on the floor I do feel comfortable shooting the ball but this week I was in getting extra shots in at night," said Lucious. "There was great preparation coming up to this game.”

He’s still turning the ball over too much though. Lucious committed five of them on Tuesday. 

“At times he is still trying to go between the legs too many times or make a home run pass," said head coach Fred Hoiberg. "He’s got to trust his teammates. His nine assists looking back on them from the last game, I’d say seven of them were just made on a simple play. He kicked the ball ahead or made a good pass within the offense. I’m pretty certain that a lot of tonight’s were the same.”

Turnovers are far from being just a Korie Lucious problem. It’s a team issue. The good news is that Lucious is getting better and better the closer this team gets to Big 12 play. With one more assist in the last two games, Lucious would be staring at two double-doubles in a row. 

"Actually, both times for my 10th assist Melvin missed a lay-up," Lucious joked (while Ejim was sitting right next to him). "I’m going to keep going back to him!”

Three Up

Rebounding – It was in jeopardy for a while, but Iowa State’s streak of out-rebounding every opponent so far this season lives on! The Cyclones, who entered Tuesday as the nation’s top rebounding team, grabbed 37 boards to Florida Gulf Coast’s 31. 

3-point shooting – The Cyclones nailed 13-of-25 shots from down town, a 52 percent mark. Lucious was 5-for-3. Tyrus McGee’s hot start continued as Mr. Energy went 3-for-4 from behind-the-arc. Iowa State has now made 10 or more 3-pointers in four games this season. 

Assists – Iowa State dished out 21 assists on 34 field goals. 

"I love the 21 assists," said Hoiberg. "When you go 21 assists on 34 field goals, that part is great."


Three Down

Turnovers – Iowa State has a turnover problem. The Cyclones committed a whopping 19 of them in the win. 

"I told our guys, ‘how good could we be if we cut our turnovers in half and had that many more opportunities to get a shot up?’ Some are just mindless," said a frustrated Hoiberg. "It just drives you nuts when you just hand them the ball and let them go down and get a transition basket.”

A lot of those turnovers were committed in Iowa State’s very…

Sloppy start – Florida Gulf Coast had twice as much energy as Iowa State at the start of this one. Maybe three times as much. 

“I thought that they were playing harder than us," said Hoiberg. "They were getting the loose balls. I didn’t feel like we were very locked in at shoot-around today and you have to. If you want to be a great team, you’ve got to go out and approach every day the same.”

Hoiberg sensed a potential let down coming into this one. 

“You always worry a little bit after a big emotional win like that," said Hoiberg. "I thought that happened tonight. I thought we came out a little sluggish. 

Big men – Here’s a stat for you. Percy Gibson and Anthony Booker combined to play 32 minutes on Tuesday. The duo grabbed a combined two rebounds on Tuesday. 


Here’s another one. 

Freshman Georges Niang scored a combined 54 points in Iowa State’s first four games of the season. He’s scored 20 in the last four. Niang will be fine. The good thing about him is that his "bad" games don’t really hurt the team. He’s solid. A little bit of a slump early in your freshman season is normal. 

Up next is Iowa, who defeated South Dakota 87-63 on Tuesday night.