A Look at Iowa State, UConn's Opponent in Sweet 16
Iowa State is led by Melvin Ejim, a 6-foot-6 senior forward who averaged 18.1 points per game, and DeAndre Kane, a senior guard who netted 16.9. The team suffered a huge loss in its Round-of-64 win over NC Central when 6-7, 240-pound sophomore Georges Niang broke a bone in his foot and was lost for the rest of the tourney. Niang averaged 16.7 points per game this season, and the Cyclones often ran their offense through him.
Ejim beat out Kansas’s Andrew Wiggins for Big 12 player of the year. He had 48 points and 16 rebounds in a win over TCU earlier this season. Anyone who can go for 48 and 16 in a game, no matter the opponent, is someone to be reckoned with.
History lesson (this will be brief): UConn and Iowa State have met just once in their respective histories, and it was recent. The Cyclones handed the Huskies a 77-64 loss in each teams’ NCAA tournament opening game on March 15, 2012. It proved to be Jim Calhoun’s final game as UConn’s head coach, as he retired six months later and handed over the reins to Kevin Ollie.
The Cyclones, led by soon-to-be NBA first-round draft pick Royce White, jumped out to as much as a 22-point first-half lead (keyed by a 16-0 run) and withstood UConn’s comeback bid to earn the win. The underachieving Huskies had two soon-to-be NBA draft lottery picks (Jeremy Lamb and Andre Drummond) as well as future second-round pick Alex Oriakhi on the team. But Drummond and Oriakhi each finished with two points and three rebounds. Drummond fouled out; Oriakhi would soon transfer to Missouri.
Shabazz Napier led the Huskies with 22 points in that one.
It's also worth noting that the game was played in Louisville's KFC Yum! Center, which has become a true House of Horrors for the Huskies in its brief history. UConn will be much happier playing before what's sure to be a rowdy, partisan crowd Friday night at the Garden.
Old pals: Kevin Ollie and ISU coach Fred Hoiberg are longtime friends, dating back to a recruiting trip to two took to the University of Arizona more than 20 years ago. They were also teammates with the Chicago Bulls for about half a season. And when Hoiberg was assistant general manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves, he brought in Ollie to come in and play backup point guard.