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DAYTON, Ohio — Let’s reset the stage for a moment.
The storyline heading into Iowa State’s bout with Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament was tempo.
Like a track star, the Cyclones like to run.
The Fighting Irish play the game like a tortoise.
Well it just so happens that in many of these pregame conversations with the media, on Twitter or wherever, the Cyclone bigs felt slighted. The result?
Georges Niang said “hello” to an entire nation by going an insanely efficient 9-of-13 with 19 points.
Melvin Ejim bruised his way to 17 and nine (shocking right?).
And in only 11 (big) minutes of play, often talked about Anthony Booker went 3-for-4 with six points to boot.
“At times I really thought it was the men playing boys most of the night," said Notre Dame coach Mike Brey.
Iowa State’s big men were a jaded bunch heading into Friday’s 76-58 rout of the Irish.
“We kind of get overlooked as the big guys,” said Booker. “It’s nothing that we’re not used to but it does give us extra motivation to get better.”
Booker’s story this season is a neat one. The fifth-year senior has had an up and down career as a Cyclone, with more downs than ups. In fact just over a month ago, he wasn’t even playing for the Cyclones. Booker though is choosing to end his career on a high note. His smile in the locker room after Iowa State’s win was contagious.
“If I’m called to play two minutes or 20 minutes, I’m going to give it my all. I love these guys. It’s a very tight nit family is the Iowa State basketball program,” said Booker. “I’m just soaking it all in because believe it or not, in a couple of weeks it’s all going to be over.”
*** Fred Hoiberg’s initial thoughts on his team’s next opponent, Ohio State, who the Cyclones will meet at 11:15 on Sunday…
“It’s a scary team,” said Hoiberg. “We won’t play them a lot like Iona did so we won’t probably pick up a lot of things that they did there except for the fact of what they can do on the defensive end and that they can cause havoc. (Aaron) Craft is one of the best that I’ve ever seen at guarding the ball. We are going to have to do a good job of valuing the ball and again, competing on the boards.”
*** Korie Lucious on how much confidence the Cyclones have right now…
“We feel like we can play with anybody in the country,” said Lucious. “We lost a couple of games this season that we feel like we should have won.”
*** A good quote from Niang…
“You could say I was in a zone but I feel like I try to bring it every night.”
*** Iowa State is now 14-14 in the NCAA Tournament and 3-0 vs. teams from the Big East.
*** Iowa State broke the Big 12’s record for 3-pointers in a season last night. The Cyclones hit nine from long range bring their tally to 334 on the year.