If there is any panic in Ames, Georges Niang wants to alleviate it. Although Iowa State fell to Texas Tech on the road on Wednesday night, bringing its record to 17–7 (6–5 in the Big 12), Niang feels confident that the Cyclones have yet to play their best basketball.
“Obviously, it’s frustrating to lose the way we did last night, but obviously we feel confident,” Niang says. “Once we get all of our pieces back [forward Jameel McKay was suspended for Wednesday's game for a practice-related incident], we’re going to be good and dangerous. Yesterday, even though we lost, we took a step in the right direction from a toughness perspective.”
In the loss, Niang was his typical stat-stuffing self, scoring 18 points and adding nine rebounds and six assists. On the season, he is one of just two D-I players averaging 19-plus points, six-plus rebounds and three-plus assists per game. (The other is LSU freshman and this week’s No. 4 player, Ben Simmons.) Although he is using more possessions and taking more shots than ever in his career, he playing his most efficient basketball since his freshman year, when he was featured in a more limited role.
Iowa State returns home on Saturday to host Texas where Niang and co. will have another chance to channel Hilton Magic and reaffirm their faithful fans.
Here are my top 10 candidates for player of the year this week:
1. Buddy Hield, senior guard, Oklahoma — 25.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.3 apg
2. Jarrod Uthoff, senior forward, Iowa — 18.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.9 bpg
3. Denzel Valentine, senior guard, Michigan State — 19 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 6.9 apg
4. Ben Simmons, freshman forward, LSU — 19.4 ppg, 12.1 rpg, 5.1 apg
5. Malcolm Brogdon, senior guard, Virginia — 17.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.8 apg
6. Kris Dunn, junior guard, Providence — 17 ppg, 6.7 apg, 5.9 rpg
7. Josh Hart, junior guard, Villanova — 15.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.7 apg
8. Brice Johnson, senior forward, North Carolina — 16.3 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 1.3 apg
9. Melo Trimble, sophomore guard, Maryland — 14.4 ppg, 5.3 apg, 3 rpg
10. Georges Niang, senior forward, Iowa State — 19 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 3.2 apg