Niang Lifts No. 16 Iowa State Past No. 23 Oklahoma
AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg gave rising freshman Monte Morris his first career start in an effort to spark the slumping Cyclones.
But it was the efforts of veteran contributors Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim that sparked No. 16 Iowa State to a crucial league win.
Niang scored a career-high 27 points, Ejim had 22 points with 16 rebounds and No. 16 Iowa State held off 23rd-ranked Oklahoma 81-75 on Saturday for just its second win in six games.
Niang was 10 of 16 shooting -- including a back-breaking 3 with 55.5 seconds left -- and Ejim had his 28th double-double as the Cyclones (16-4, 4-4 Big 12) moved back to .500 in the Big 12.
Buddy Hield scored a career-high 30 points for Oklahoma (17-5, 6-3), which saw its winning streak snapped at four games. The Sooners lost despite outrebounding Iowa State 46-33.
After losing four games in five after a 14-0 start, Hoiberg made a big change to his lineup.
Hoiberg gave the ever-improving Morris the start at point guard after he posted a 20-to-2 assist to turnover ratio in seven Big 12 games.
The move also allowed the Cyclones to free up the explosive Kane for more opportunities to make plays from the wing.
Morris finished with 12 points, while Kane matched a season-low with five points. But Kane also nine assists and just one turnover, and his dunk with 33 seconds to go helped put away the Sooners.
The guard who dominated the game early was Hield.
He had 18 points in just 20 minutes -- including his fourth 3 of the half to give Oklahoma a 33-32 lead. Ryan Spangler then hit a 3 that was later ruled a 2 following a video replay, and the team went into halftime tied at 37.
Hield matched his previous best of 23 points with 16:08 left, then hit a layup to tie the game at 46-all on Oklahoma's next trip down the floor.
But Iowa State tightened up its defense on Hield and freshman Matt Thomas -- who looked lost at times earlier this season -- confidently drilled a 25-footer that gave Iowa State's its first double-digit lead, 62-52.
Hield and the Sooners wouldn't go away though, as he hit a pair of free throws to make it 69-68.
Oklahoma was still within three points when Niang buried a 3 off a look that at first glance appeared to be a bad one, putting Iowa State ahead 76-70 with 55.5 second left.
Isaiah Cousins had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Jordan Woodard added 10 for Oklahoma, but Hield went nearly 16 minutes without a field goal to close the game.
Iowa State also held Spangler to eight points after he scored 16 on the Cyclones in an 81-72 win in Norman on Jan. 11.
This win was huge for Iowa State considering that it faces No. 8 Oklahoma State on Monday in Stillwater, where the Cyclones have lost 18 in a row since 1988.
The Cowboys should also be more focused than ever on the Cyclones after losing to Baylor at home on Saturday.
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