KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When Iowa State is in need of clutch shots this season, it appears there will be no shortage of options.
Try Georges Niang.
Or Naz Long.
Heck, even Matt Thomas.
Iowa State looked in all three directions Monday in an 84-74 win against Alabama to advance to the championship game Tuesday in the CBE Classic. There was no shortage of statsheet double-takes in the opening-round win.
“Whoever the hot guys is, we’re going to go to,” Fred Hoiberg said.
The Cyclones fell behind early as Alabama started 5-of-9 behind the arc. With the help of eight-straight points from Georges Niang — who finished with 28 points — Iowa State went on a 15-4 run in a three-minute span to build a double-figure first half lead.
Alabama started the second half on a 7-2 run to pull within one and eventually took a one-point lead 5:29 into the second half. Then, it was Long’s turn. First, he converted a 4-point play — hitting the free throw after getting fouled on a 3 — and drove to the basket twice, getting fouled on both attempts and hitting all four free throws.
The Cyclones never trailed again in their fourth-straight win at the Sprint Center, and the first since capturing the Big 12 crown in March.
“It’s a great win,” Hoiberg said. “That’s a really good team.”
The win came in large part due to Matt Thomas’ production off the bench in his season debut. Thomas scored 13 points — with four 3s and 5-of-6 from the field — and also had a game-high eight rebounds in the win.
“I think you’ll see more of that,” said Thomas, who played the final minutes with the starting group. “Last year I may have been timid at times and whatnot being a freshman, but what I did tonight I’m looking forward to doing all season.”
There was Monte Morris, too. Morris appeared quite, finishing with no points, but the sophomore point guard dished out 12 assists combined with no turnovers. He has 21 assists and no turnovers in the last two games.
"He’s impressive,” Niang said of Morris. “The way he handles himself and controls the tempo of the game is unlike a sophomore. He’s like a seasoned vet out there and we’re really blessed to have him.”
As was evidence Monday, Morris is one of many weapons the Cyclones will have this season.
“Once we got out and pushed past that tough stretch we had at the beginning of the second half, I thought our pace was great the rest of the game,” Hoiberg said. “Matt coming in and hitting a couple shots for us was huge and Monte controlling it like he always does for us. Dustin [Hogue] came up with a couple huge plays and Georges was unbelievable all night. Naz, another guy.”
And the list goes on for Iowa State.