AMES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa State will be junior Georges Niang’s team this year.
Niang didn’t waste time showing the 14th-ranked Cyclones what he can do as their No. 1 option, scoring a career-high 30 points with nine rebounds and five assists in their 93-82 victory over Oakland on Friday night
UNLV transfer Bryce Dejean-Jones scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in his debut for the Cyclones (1-0), who improved to 5-0 in openers under coach Fred Hoiberg.
The Cyclones built their lead up to as much as 20 after some early struggles and won comfortably behind Niang, who also became the 31st Iowa State player to top 1,000 career points.
“It’s cool to score 1,000 points. I mean, it’s a minor accomplishment (compared) to what I want to do with this team,” Niang said.
Corey Petros had 25 points and Kahlil Felder scored 23 for Oakland (0-1), which was picked seventh in the preseason Horizon League poll.
Iowa State’s offense clicked from the opening tip. However, the defense took a bit longer to get going.
The Cyclones shot 50 percent in the first half. But they couldn’t string together enough stops to get a significant run going, and Oakland was able to pull even at 38-all just before halftime behind strong starts from Petros and Felder.
Iowa State closed the half with a 7-0 run though, and Dejean-Jones gave the Cyclones their first double-digit lead, 51-41, with 16:13 left.
Niang then found Dejean-Jones for an alley-oop — a sight Hoiberg will certainly like to see more of this season.
Dejean-Jones finished with the first double-double of his career, and he added four assists.
“I thought he was very aggressive going to the hole,” Hoiberg said of Dejean-Jones. “He’s so athletic. He’s so gifted. We didn’t run a lot for Bryce. He just found a way to go out and get it on his natural God-given ability.”
Dustin Hogue had 15 points and Monte Morris had 14 for the Cyclones, who shot 5 of 9 on 3s in the second half.
Iowa State: The Cyclones have seven newcomers on their roster this season. But Dejean-Jones was the only one who saw more than spot duty in the opener. Iowa State also played without sophomore Matt Thomas and junior Abdel Nader, who are serving two-game suspensions after being arrested for drunk driving in the offseason.
Oakland: The 6-foot-10 Petros led the Horizon League in rebounding at 8.2 per game in 2013-14 and was a preseason first-team all-league pick. He proved to be a handful for the Cyclones, who are counting on transfer Jameel McKay to shore up their interior defense once he’s eligible on Dec. 20.
Iowa State: Hosts Georgia State on Monday.
Oakland: At Eastern Michigan on Monday.
Niang lost 25 pounds in the offseason, and his newfound quickness was immediately evident. Petros went out to guard him near the 3-point line late in the first half, and Niang dribbled behind his back, blew past Petros with a quick step and banked in a jumper to put the Cyclones ahead 27-20.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
Niang was asked what he expects to do as an encore after his career night. While Niang asked the reporter for clarification, Hoiberg leaned in and said “Say play better defense.” Hoiberg went on to say that defense will be the difference for the Cyclones this season, adding that he’s excited to see how much better they can be on that end of the floor once they have a full roster.
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