DAYTON — Iowa State likes to live by a simple set of rules: shoot the ball from as far away from the basket as necessary, and if you miss, keep shooting anyway.
But sometimes, like last night against Notre Dame, the Cyclones bend their own beliefs. Instead of living on the edge — of the three-point line — Iowa State took the easier route, attacking the Fighting Irish as often near the basket as away from it.
And Notre Dame had no answer for it. Iowa State won 76-58 in a West Regional second-round game at University of Dayton Arena.
It’s not that the No. 10-seeded Cyclones (23-11) didn’t chuck it up from three-point range. They still made 9 of 21 threes, but their quickness allowed them to get to the basket against the less-athletic Irish (25-10), who suffered their second-worst NCAA Tournament loss under coach Mike Brey.
Iowa State advances to Sunday’s third round against No. 2 seed Ohio State. The Buckeyes (27-7) are 5-0 against the Cyclones all time, the last win coming in the 2006-07 season.
Expect a perimeter shootout, at least from Iowa State. The Cyclones operate in perpetual “green light” mode. They led the nation in both three-pointers made per game (9.8) and overall attempts (878) in the regular season.
Korie Lucious, a transfer from Michigan State, reasoned that if all five starters can make three-pointers, why not try? So they did. Nine of Iowa State’s 12 players attempted at least one three-pointer. Georges Niang led the Cyclones with 19 points and Melvin Ejim had 17 points and eight rebounds.Tom Knight and Jack Cooley each scored 14 for Notre Dame.
Scoring wasn’t the issue for Iowa State this season; defense was. The Cyclones scored 89 and 96 points against Kansas and lost both games. But against Notre Dame, the Cyclones filled the lanes and collapsed down low against the bigger Irish. Their sometimes shaky perimeter defense also excelled, as Notre Dame’s top three-point threat, Pat Connaughton, was limited to three points.