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AMES — It was like deja vu all over again.
Iowa State had a 73-70 lead with three minutes and 30 seconds to go Saturday night at Hilton Coliseum against the Texas Longhorns. The Cyclones had seemingly been in control the whole game, but the Longhorns just wouldn’t go away. They wouldn’t stop hitting shots and keeping themselves in striking distance. Iowa State just couldn’t get that stop they needed to create space.
We’d seen this movie before. We’d seen the Cyclones in control before faltering in the final minutes. We’d even seen them do it on their home floor.
It was like deja vu all over again, and then it wasn’t.
Georges Niang scored to push the lead to five, then Prince Ibeh answered with a jumper for Texas before picking up his fifth foul trying to draw a charge on Abdel Nader. A charge would’ve been Nader’s fifth, instead, he put in a pair of free throws.
Tevin Mack got a tip in to pull Texas back within three again. Then the Cyclones got their stops. They got some scores. They got a (much needed) win.
The final score: No. 14 Iowa State 85, No. 25 Texas 75.
I hate deja vu.
1. You can’t stop him. You can only hope to contain him.
If there were any questions about Georges Niang being a first team All-American, tell the person asking those questions to pop in a tape of this game. He’ll answer all those questions in the first half.
He scored 15 of Iowa State’s 36 points in the first 20 minutes, including 13 of the team’s last 15. He drilled 3-pointers on three straight possessions. Oh, and he showed off that beautiful post game. He was, in a word, unstoppable.
Every time Texas started to see the door open he was there to slam it back shut. Whether it was by 3-pointer, hook shot or layup, the man was on his game.
You can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him. Saturday night, Texas didn’t even have that hope.
2. Who needs one closer?
I say some stupid things sometimes. Like when told my friend I’d get a Hawkeye tattoo if the Iowa football team undefeated this season or when I told Rob Gray I’d try scotch. I can’t avoid it.
I did it again Wednesday night when I wrote that Iowa State has a closer problem. Is it Monte Morris or is it Georges Niang?
I wasn’t smart enough to realize it’s both.
This team isn’t going to have just one closer. While Niang and Morris are both good individually, it’s what they do as a tandem that makes them so lethal. The ways they play off each other is what slams the door in the opposing team’s face every time they think they have a chance.
They went away from playing off each other during the final stretches of Iowa State’s last few close losses. Saturday night, they were back to playing off each other. They were sharing the ball and letting the game come to them.
It worked and it was beautiful. I swear I don’t mean to say stupid things.
3. Deonte Burton: The Manimal Jr.
Kenneth Faried is one of the highest energy players in the National Basketball Association. If you’ve never heard of the Denver Nuggets power forward, you might’ve heard of him when he led the nation in rebounding at Moorhead State.
He’s relentless, he hustles, he defends and he is so active that it drives opposing players insane. That’s the player I imagine Deonte Burton being.
Burton only had 10 points Saturday but he scored six in just the first few minutes. He was the adrenaline shot the Cyclones needed to get themselves going. On defense, he even more active.
He had one blocked shot. He got his hands on the ball countless times. Even though he only grabbed four rebounds, he was active and was keeping his own man off the glass.
That’s the Deonte Burton Iowa State needs. If he keeps it up, this team’s ceiling just goes up.
4. Over helping leads to second chances
This is just a bit of picking nits, but Iowa State did give up 15 offensive rebounds in this game. It wasn’t blocking out, energy or lack of bodies putting the Cyclones out of position, but it was over helping on penetration.
There were moments when a Texas player would find his way into the lane for a shot and the whole defense would suck in on him. That took the defenders out of rebounding position and opened the door for the Longhorns to kill it on the glass.
It’s an easily correctable thing and it’s easy to see on film. Oh, hey, there’s a film room column idea.
5. Showtime lives
You didn’t think he was really going to go away just like that, did you?
We saw the Jameel McKay of old Saturday night when he returned from his indefinite suspension that kept him out of the last two games. He was active, he was positive and he was so, so, so fun to watch.
There weren’t the boneheaded turnovers. Passes weren’t slipping through his hands. When he got his chances, he converted, and sometimes did it with style.
The two lobs he caught Saturday were two of the best of his career, and that’s saying something. I’m pretty sure he could’ve had his arm pits in the rim on the second one which sent Hilton Coliseum into an absolute frenzy.
We learned a lot about Iowa State’s team Saturday night, and the biggest one is this.