Iowa State was considered by many to be a dark horse final four candidate prior to the start of the tournament. While they have advanced to the sweet 16 and certainly still have that chance they will be scrambling to replace Georges Diang who broke his foot in their second round game against North Carolina Central. He was arguably their best player and will prove more difficult to replace as the team advances further. They played tremendous in the closing minutes against North Carolina to advance to this point. The game had a furious final few minutes that concluded with DeAndre Kane drove the lane for a layup and a two point lead with slightly less than 2 seconds left. What happened next was argued and reviewed repeatedly as UNC players failed to call timeout as they inbounded the ball too quickly. This gave the Cyclones a thrilling victory and a birth in the sweet 16. They now have the advantage of practicing without Diang and figuring out ways to be productive without him on the floor. UConn survived in controversial fashion vs. Saint Joseph’s in the second round and if not for a few questionable calls by the officials they wouldn’t have advanced to the 3rd round. They then proceeded to play a complete game in a 77-65 win over second seed Villanova. These teams have a long history from their days in the Big East and this game showed that. UConn held a slim 25-24 lead at the half but they would ride the tremendous play of Shabazz Napier to 52 second half points and a Sweet 16 birth.
UConn was led, as they always are, by the all around brilliance of Napier. He finished with 25 points (21 in the second half), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals, doing all of this with a bruised shin. He scored all of UConn’s clinching baskets down the stretch and only missed This should come as no surprise as he led the team in scoring, rebounding, and assists in the regular season as well. The Huskies are certainly led by Napier but the supporting cast has stepped up as evidenced by 4 other players in double figures including 2 players off the bench. Lasan Kromah came off the bench for 12 points while fellow substitute Terrence Samuel had 11. Ryan Boatright had 11 points and 7 rebounds and DeAndre Daniels also chipped in 11.
As much as Napier was impressive, DeAndre Kane my have been even more impressive. He either scored or assisted on 43 of Iowa State’s 85 points including 15 of their 17 last points. This marked the 6th time this season that he was responsible for over half of his team’s points. He became only the 5th player in NCAA tournament history with at least 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists in a tournament game. The Cyclones scored 24 of its 32 points in the paint in the second half and will look to do that against a relatively inexperienced front line of UConn.
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