Naz Goes Long in 95-62 Win

Naz Goes Long in 95-62 Win

Cyclones clobber UNC-Wilmington to win season opener as sophomore guard Naz Long goes on a three-point barrage

Had the Cyclones been at full health, Naz Long would have come off the bench in Sunday's season-opener against UNC-Wilmgonton, a 95-62 thrashing.

But with forward Melvin Ejim out the next few weeks with a knee injury, Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg elected to shrink his small-ball lineup, tabbing the 6-foot-4 Long to start at guard and slide everybody else down a position.

And if Long hadn't gotten big minutes Sunday, that thrashing wouldn't have been by such a deficit.

The sophomore guard drilled eight of his 11 three-point attempts on his way to 26 points, nearly quadrupling his prior career high of seven points and besting his total freshman year output of 25.

"I've just been working on that and the hard work in the gym finally paid off," Long said. "I've got to give big credit to my teammates, they were looking out for me."

Five of Long's three-pointers came from the left corner.

For some context, Tyrus McGee never made more than six three-pointers in a game. Further, only 20 times in all of college basketball last season did a player make more than eight three-pointers in a game.

"He has been really stroking it in practice. It was great to see it pay off in a game situation. He's just been rising up with confidence. That's what we've been preaching to our guys, rise up with swagger and knock it down."

Senior point guard DeAndre Kane had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds and Georges Niang added 16 points. Matt Thomas and Dustin Hogue each scored 10 points and freshman point guard Monté Morris hit two three-pointers.

UNC-Wilmington, which lost 82-39 to Iowa in its season-opener, kept the game close the first 10 minutes; with 10:08 left in the first half, the Cyclones led 14-13. But spurred by five Long three-pointers, the Cyclones bumped their lead to 52-22 at halftime.

Analysis

  • With Niang and Dustin Hogue picking up two early fouls apiece, Hoiberg moved Kane to the '4' with Percy Gibson at center and Morris, Sherron Dorsey-Walker and Matt Thomas at guard.

    "We had to improvise our lineup," Hoiberg said. "I liked it, liked the four guards in there."

    Said Kane, who went from the top of the key to having his back to the basket: "It was alright. Just set screens and roll and if I can pick-and-pop and go, then go."

  • Iowa State played fast in the break, but finished with only four transition points. One of those buckets was the easy candidate for play of the game, with Daniel Edozie swatting a shot that went right to Morris. Morris flew up the right side of court and lobbed a pass to Kane, who finished the oop with a ferocious, two-hand slam.

    "I thought our spacing on the break was really good," Hoiberg said.

  • Matt Thomas was only 2-for-6 from behind the three-point line and may have rushed through some of his shots, his first two three-point misses coming in transition. Thomas did shoot a pretty, one-handed floater from the free throw line.

  • Gibson was the first sub off the bench, in for Hogue after two early fouls, with nearly five minutes elapses in the first half.

  • Dorsey-Walker was late often late on defensive switches.

  • Iowa State out-rebounded the Seahawks, 51 to 32.

  • The Cyclones turned the ball over 11 times but had 21 assists, six blocks and a steal. Hogue had two of those blocks.

  • Four of Kane's 11 rebounds were offensive.

  • Iowa State shot 52.9 percent in the first half and 51.7 in the second, this despite emptying the bench the final five minutes. The Cyclones finished the game 15-for-32 from three.

  • Jameel McKay was in attendance on an unofficial visit. McKay, a Marquette transfer, announced his intent to transfer to Iowa State earlier in the week.

    Quotes

    Hoiberg:

    "[Naz] had great pace and tempo on his shot tonight and he wasn't rushing it.

    "It's great to see that hard work pay off. He was off-balance last week. You have to have that rhythm and tempo to be an effective shooter."

    He'll still play a great role for us. Thing I was most impressed with Naz tonight was he was all over the place defensively. That's one thing I know will be a constant."

    Long:

    "You've got to be prepared for whatever step you're gonna take."

    "The last shot I took I should've hit Georges on the run but I pulled up. Even coach said I should've made a better decision. After I hit the first couple I felt really calm. This game I definitely felt calm and relaxed and I was knocking them down."

    "I just let the game go by and my teammates were. I'm a student of the game so I take whatever will come to me."

    Kane:

    "In practice [Naz Long] is lights-out, man. He's a great shooter, shoots the ball the same every time."

    "I'm hunting [rebounds] down. I'm going and getting them. Get the rebound and go."

    Notes

  • ISU is 87-20 all-time in season openers with 16 consecutive wins at Hilton.

  • Most points in a home opener since 2005.

  • The Cyclones under Fred Hoiberg have made 10-plus three-pointers 48 times.

  • Hoiberg's Cyclones are 11-1 when scoring 90-plus points and 26-2 when shooting 50 percent or better from the field.

  • Long's eight three-pointers were the most in a game for Iowa State since Lucca Staiger in 2009 against Drake. Staiger hit 10.

  • Matt Thomas is the 20th freshman in ISU history to start a season-opener and the 13th to score 10-plus points in an opener.

  • DeAndre Kane tied a career-high with 11 rebounds and notched his seventh career double-double.

  • Georges Niang scored in double figures for the 24th time in his career.

    Next Up

    The Cyclones have one day off before hosting Texas A&M Corpus-Christi on Nov. 12 at 7 p.m.

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