AMES, IOWA — Georges Niang gazed down at the stat sheet sitting on the table in front of him late Monday after his team secured a blowout victory that looked prettier on paper than it did at times on the hardwood.
What was Niang so fixed on?
“Their field goal percentage,” Niang said. “Coach is always preaching, ‘Three more stops.’ We held them to 34 percent, I think that’s pretty good.”
Those extra stops and multiple offensive spurts eventually gave Iowa State (7-0) a 21-point, 84-63 victory against Buffalo on Monday, though not without some extra effort as the offense sputtered early before kicking in late.
During a first half span of 2 minutes, 47 seconds, Iowa State went on a 15-0 run, helped by four 3s and an and-one, to take a 14-point lead. That offensive spurt would be followed by a scoreless lull of 6 minutes, 20 seconds.
“What we’ve got to get better at is we do have scoring lulls,” Steve Prohm said. “We can hit you with 20 and then we can go through a lull. We’ve just got to continue to shorten our lulls and you do that by really preaching to be good defensively.”
The Cyclones watched Buffalo climb within one nearly seven minutes into the second half before using an 11-0 run to push back ahead. Buffalo scored just 10 points in the final six minutes as Iowa State pulled away.
The surge was helped by Niang and a new pair of shoes.
Niang scored a career-high 31 points in the win, including 24 in the second half, while also grabbing 12 rebounds to tally his third-career double-double. Meanwhile, Monte Morris changed shoes at halftime after going scoreless in the first half with two assists. He finished with 12 points and 10 assists.
“I had a different mindset letting the game come to me and when I see the ball go in and my teammates make it, it helps with me too,” Morris said.
That helped Iowa State to its seventh victory no matter how things may have looked at times Monday night.
“When you’re coaching good teams you start evaluating wins,” Prohm said. “You start over analyzing wins to where winning by 20 isn’t good enough and winning by 15 isn’t good enough. Were we supposed to win 100-60? The big thing is when we faced adversity or things have gotten tough we’ve executed or we’ve made big plays or we’ve gotten stops.
“It’s seven games in, we’re not going to be perfect.”
For now, though, the record remains unblemished.