Cyclones knock Irish out of tourney
DAYTON, Ohio (AP)
After spending most of the season doing damage from outside the 3-point line, Iowa State moved inside for its first game in the NCAA tournament.
The Cyclones didn't look out of place at all.
Freshman forward Georges Niang matched a season high with 19 points and Melvin Ejim added 17 as Iowa State, showing there's a whole lot more than just 3-pointers in its arsenal, dismantled Notre Dame 76-58 on Friday night in the West Regional.
The 10th-seeded Cyclones (23-11) will play No. 2 seed Ohio State on Sunday. The Buckeyes advanced with a 95-70 thrashing of Iona.
Iowa State led the nation in 3-pointers this season, but with Niang posting up down low with an array of moves in the lane, the Cyclones were just as effective from short range in ousting the Fighting Irish (25-10), who played their final game as a member of the Big East and will join the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.
Iowa State shot better than 70 percent for much of the second half, turning a reasonably close game into a blowout.
The Cyclones know their reputation as outside shooters, but they can play down low, too.
''They're so potent offensively,'' Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. ''They keep you spread, and at times I really felt it was men playing against boys. They're really, really good. They're men.''
Tom Knight scored 14 to lead the Fighting Irish, who walked off the floor looking as sickly green as the trim on their uniforms.
Iowa State made 12 of 14 shots to open the second half, taking any possible drama out of just the second matchup between the Midwest schools, and first since 1979.
Notre Dame must be hoping it won't see the Cyclones for another 34 years.
These guys from Ames can shoot the lights out.
The Cyclones made a school-record 325 3-pointers this season and came in averaging nearly 10 per game. They finished with nine, and it was a 3 from the wing by Michigan State transfer Korie Lucious with 11:22 left that put Iowa State ahead by 20 and essentially set up a third-round date between the States - Ohio and Iowa.
Moments later, Tyrus McGee drilled another 3-pointer to make it 66-42, sending fans scurrying toward the exits after the fourth game at sold-out Dayton Arena.
Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg, who was never afraid to shoot as a star with the Cyclones, gives his team the green light to shoot from almost anywhere on the floor. But Iowa State showed great patience and poise in the first half while building a 12-point lead.
Iowa State went to Niang, and the big man from Meuthen, Mass., took it right at the Irish.
''Georges is fantastic,'' Ejim said. ''All year he's been a mismatch problem, and it was clear that today the bigs were just not able to defend him. We were able to make good interior passes and really get him and put him in position to be successful, and he really showed a lot of what he's been doing all season and really exploit them on offense.''
The Cyclones weren't too bad with their backs to the basket either as they picked up their intensity and pressured Notre Dame into numerous miscues.
''That was one of the biggest keys,'' Hoiberg said. ''We wanted to come out there and really make it difficult, try to get into some passing lanes, pick them up full court, because their guards play so many minutes. We felt we had some depth and we could wear them down if we did pick them up full court.''
The Irish made just two field goals in the final 11:19 of the first half, but they nearly escaped to their locker room down just 10 when they inexplicably watched as Will Clyburn dribble from one end to the other and hit a layup as the horn sounded to give Iowa State a 35-23 lead.
Niang's three-point play put the Cyclones ahead 47-31 early in the second, and Iowa State couldn't miss for several minutes while pushing its lead to 27.
The Cyclones outscored the Irish 21-7 over the last 11:40 to open a lead that seemed pretty comfortable given Notre Dame's offensive struggles. The Irish, who pride themselves on taking care of the ball under Brey, had an uncharacteristic 14 turnovers in the first 20 minutes. That was only four short of their season high set in a five-overtime win against Louisville.
Some of that was Iowa State's defense, but a lot of it was just careless mistakes by the flailing Irish.
''I'll give 50 percent credit to their defense, and then 50 percent is we played so fast,'' Brey said. ''We played fast in the half court. We rushed things. My guards have been so good all year with controlling tempo and making decisions, and it just wasn't a very good night for them. When our guards aren't in a good rhythm, we probably can't beat anybody.
''We never really were able to recover.''