Akron falls to Iowa State 83-60
HONOLULU (AP) — Georges Niang and Iowa State just keep rolling along. The program’s fastest start is within reach, and it looks as if the Cyclones could take down a few school records this season.
Niang scored 15 of his 22 points in the second half, and No. 14 Iowa State beat Akron 83-60 on Monday in the semifinals of the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii.
"Today was a big game," Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg said.
Iowa State improved to 10-0 for the second time in school history, joining the 1996-97 team that made it all the way to the Sweet 16. The Cyclones will play South Carolina or Boise State on Wednesday night for the tournament title.
Melvin Ejim had 21 points and 12 rebounds for Iowa State, and Dustin Hogue scored 18 points. DeAndre Kane added 15 points and 11 boards.
Reggie McAdams led Akron (6-3) with 13 points.
Iowa State erased an early eight-point deficit with a 17-3 run. Niang hit a 3-pointer right before the buzzer to make it 37-31 at halftime.
Niang said his team realized during that run what it needed to do to get the lead.
"We got a lot of stops on the defensive end, I think that helped us in transition to get easy buckets," Niang said.
Iowa State scored 46 points and shot just over 55 percent in the second half, mostly on layups and dunks. The Cyclones finished with 42 points in the paint.
"We did such a good job going after the second shot," Hoiberg said. "As we told our guys, the game begins after we shoot that first one we need to get after those long rebounds."
With eight minutes left, Kane found Ejim under the basket for a dunk that gave the Cyclones a 70-50 lead.
"We got all the loose balls in the second half," Hoiberg said. "I thought that they got the majority of the 50-50 balls in the first half, but once we did that we outrebounded that team by 10, which was big."
Akron shot 40 percent in the half, but made just 5 of 18 3-pointers and attempted no free throws. The Zips were 11 for 35 from long range and 1 for 6 at the line for the game.
"We tired, and then mentally we didn’t handle adversity very well," Akron coach Keith Dambrot said. "You know, we kind of just died on the vine."
Niang was 7 for 11 from the field and 4 for 4 at the line in his fourth consecutive game with at least 20 points.
Niang said chemistry has played a key role in the fast start, with teammates getting each other involved on offense and backing each other up on defense.
"That’s huge of us and if we keep doing that, the sky is the limit," he said.