UMKC-Iowa St. Preview
Coach Fred Hoiberg has been urging Iowa State to remain aggressive on offense after its first defeat came in uncharacteristic fashion - advice that Georges Niang and Bryce Dejean-Jones seem to have taken to heart.
After averaging 86.0 points on 52.4 percent shooting during a 3-0 start, Iowa State made just 29.7 percent - their worst shooting effort since January 2011 - in a 72-63 loss to Maryland in the CBE Classic title game Nov. 25.
Iowa State (5-1) then missed 17 of its first 24 shots last Tuesday against visiting Lamar before shooting 64.4 percent the rest of the way in a 96-59 victory.
The Cyclones stayed hot Thursday, shooting a season-best 64.0 percent in a 95-77 home win over then-No. 18 Arkansas as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. They put up 110 points in the second half versus Lamar and the first 20 minutes against the Razorbacks.
"This game is so hard to play when you don't have your confidence and what I noticed is a team that is thinking too much," Hoiberg said. "When you play with a cloudy mind, it's hard to accomplish anything. The big thing we've worked on (since Maryland) is getting out with pace and whatever defense they were in, we were going to attack."
Big 12 player of the week Niang and co-newcomer of the week Dejean-Jones are leading the offensive resurgence. Niang, averaging a team-high 19.5 points, made 15 of 20 from the floor in the two games, while Dejean-Jones has scored 18.7 per game on 61.3 percent shooting in his last three.
Dejean-Jones, a transfer from UNLV, had a season-high 27 points Thursday while becoming the fifth Cyclones player to make all of his shots (8 for 8) with eight or more attempts. Niang added 26 and matched a career high with eight assists.
Now the Cyclones will try to win their 38th in a row at home against an unranked opponent, a streak dating to a loss against Northern Iowa on Nov. 30, 2011.
UMKC (3-6) has allowed opponents to shoot 50.2 percent - including 43.0 from 3-point range - while losing its last six against Division-I opponents. The Kangaroos' two wins since a season-opening victory at Missouri have come against D-II programs.
"They shot a high percentage, and we couldn't get enough stops to keep the game close in the first half, and that was just a tough lead to overcome," coach Kareem Richardson told the school's official website.
UMKC has struggled offensively of late with a 35.2 field-goal percentage in its last four against Division-I foes.
The Kangaroos are 0-19 all-time versus ranked opponents and have dropped all three meetings with Iowa State. They suffered the worst loss in school history in the most recent matchup, 110-51 at Hilton Coliseum on Nov. 25, 2013.