Niang Leads Cyclones Past UNO In First Career Start

By Rob Gray, Reporter

Iowa State's Will Clyburn trie to go for a lay up around Omaha's Marcus Ryus (23) during 1st half at Hilton Coliseum Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Ames Tribune, Nirmalendu Majumdar)

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By Grant Burkhardt

AMES, Iowa — Iowa State’s lineup underwent an overhaul for Sunday’s game against Nebraska-Omaha.

Former starters Anthony Booker and Melvin Ejim sat early.

Georges Niang and Percy Gibson strode onto the floor for the tip instead.

A big deal?

“I think it’s just a temporary thing,” said Ejim, who locked down 13 rebounds in 18 minutes during a 93-65 cruise past the Mavericks before 12,785 fans at Hilton Coliseum.

Could be.

But however the Cyclones (7-3) mixed and matched against out-manned UNO (2-9) worked out well.

Niang scored a game-high 15 points, grabbed six rebounds and doled out four assists.

“It really didn’t change much,” Niang said of his first career start. “It’s the same old Georges you’re going see all year.”

Gibson scored 10 points on 4-for-5 field goal shooting while notching six boards.

Booker tied a season high with 11 points and also ran down six rebounds.

“It was switching things up a little bit after a disappointing loss,” said ISU Coach Fred Hoiberg, whose team was coming off an 80-71 setback at Iowa. “I thought everybody responded well.”

The Mavericks drained nine of their first 16 3-point attempts.

Other than that, it was all ISU.

The Cyclones allowed UNO just one offensive rebound — one game removed from being beaten on the boards for the first time all season.

“A great collective effort from everyone,” Booker said. “Everybody wanted to get in there and rebound, seeing how we got killed last game.”

ISU committed six turnovers, its lowest total since losing just five on March 7, 2009, against Texas Tech.

Six Cyclones scored in double figures, with Tyrus McGee totaling 11 and Chris Babb chipping in 10.

Korie Lucious notched nine points, along with four assists to one turnover.

“We didn’t shoot the ball great and we scored 93,” Hoiberg said. “It’s because we got extra opportunities to shoot the ball. We got offensive rebounds. We didn’t give them extra shots and that stuff’s huge. Now we’ve got to do that every night.”

The Cyclones are 7-3 through their first 10 games for the second straight season.

And the Bulldogs surprised them for one of those early losses last November.

So where is ISU now versus the same point last season?

“We’ve still got work to, there’s no doubt about it,” Hoiberg said. “This was, I knew, one where you’ve got to get through it. It’s coming off an emotional loss where we didn’t handle adversity well. We had some of those moments last year, where we didn’t handle adversity well early on in the season. We weren’t trusting each other, I didn’t feel, and I’ve felt we’ve had a few of those moments, as well, especially in the three losses that we’ve had. But I was happy with the way our guys responded. They came out and played the right way.”

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