Naz Long Ignites ISU Basketball Blowout Win
By Rob Gray, Correspondent
AMES — Iowa State sophomore guard Naz Long crouched in his corner.
Eyes up, hands outstretched, ready to spring into action.
The Cyclones were winding down the last possession of a dominant first half Sunday against outmanned North Carolina-Wilmington.
Long, understandably, was hunting another shot — yet another swish to feed the mammoth splash he made with a career-high six 3-pointers and 20 points notched in the first 20 minutes alone.
He didn’t get the ball, but he’d already left an indelible mark on what turned into a 95-62 season-opening win over the wobbly Seahawks (0-2) before a sellout crowd of 14,384 at Hilton Coliseum.
“I’m cool with whatever,” said Long, who finished his first career start with 26 points — more than he had his entire freshman season. “I just let the game go by. My team was making great plays, too. We put a high number on the board.”
Lots of them.
Cyclone starters were 12 of 20 from long range and shot 61 percent overall.
They drilled 15 3-pointers — two shy of tying the school record set last season at home against Kansas.
ISU also limited UNC-Wilmington to 21 percent field goal shooting in the first half and held a 51-32 edge on the glass.
“We’ve been focusing the whole preseason on making the extra pass and being unselfish on defense, also — having each other’s back,” said forward Georges Niang, who scored 16 points in just 18 minutes. “I think we really take pride in that and are making that our motto this year. I think we’re doing a great job so far.”
Do-everything guard DeAndre Kane complied 13 points, a career high-tying 11 rebounds and seven assists in 25 minutes.
He even played the four — power forward — when the Cyclones (1-0) went extra small after Niang and energetic forward Dustin Hogue picked up two early fouls.
“Im hunting them down,” Kane, a transfer from Marshall, said of rebounds. “I’m going to go get them. Like coach says, when I can get the rebound we can just go.”
Kane grabbed a game-high four offensive boards.
Niang, who swept six off the glass, joked that Kane’s “stealing my rebounds.”
“He’s a machine,” Niang added. “He does it all. When you have a guy like that who plays with so much tenacity and energy like he does, he’s going to have numbers like that because he’s so talented. I’m glad he’s on our side.”
The same goes for Long, who did his damage in 26 minutes and finished two 3-pointers short of Lucca Staiger’s single-game team record set in 2009.
His career high in points entering the game?
Seven, set twice early last season.
“It’s just the hard work in the gym that finally paid off,” Long said.
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