No. 19 Iowa State beat No. 1 Oklahoma, 82-77, in Ames on Monday. It was the Cyclones’ first win over the AP’s top-ranked team since 1957.
(That win, by the way, came against Kansas, which was led by a young center named Wilt Chamberlain.)
Iowa State had an eight-point cushion over Oklahoma in the final minutes, but the game came down to the final seconds before the Cyclones pulled away.
“You expect that from the No. 1 team in the country,” Iowa State forward Georges Niang said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “They did a great job of really getting to their hot spots and we really didn’t do a good job of making them uncomfortable. So credit them. They really didn’t give up and made it an absolutely great game.”
Iowa State almost beat Oklahoma in Norman on Jan. 2, but the Sooners hit a late three to prevail, 87-83. Thus, through two games, Iowa State has outscored Oklahoma 165-164.
“I think we’re a good matchup for them,” Niang said. “Of course, playing against them for so many years, we know their players, they know us and every game is intense. Every team wants to beat then other team just as bad. It was a great game tonight.”
Buddy Hield, a player of the year candidate, started slow but still drilled seven threes and finished with a game-high 27 points for the Sooners (15-2, 4-2).
“Man, when he started getting hot, that was a little alarming,” Niang said. “But when you have a good core group of guys and a great coach, you really just stick to your guns and put your head down and keep on making winning plays. We couldn’t be happier for our team.”
Niang, who finished with a team-high 22 points, was one of three Cyclones to score at least 20; Abdel Nader and Monte Morris were the others. Morris, in fact, had 20 points, seven rebounds, three assists and one steal in 40 minutes of action. He was the only player on either team to play the entire game.
“I think he’s an All-American point guard and the best point guard in the country,” Niang said. “When you have a guy like that who you can really depend on him to carry you to the finish line, life is a lot easier. He really showed why he’s the best point guard in the country tonight.”
Iowa State (14-4, 3-3) improved to 2-1 against ranked teams this season, as all four of its losses have come by five points or fewer. The Cyclones play at TCU (9-9, 1-5) on Saturday, with three straight games against top-10 teams to follow. They play against No. 3 Kansas on Jan. 25, at No. 10 Texas A&M on Jan. 30, and against No. 6 West Virginia on Feb. 2.
It’s only January, but the Cyclones are looking like a dangerous team come tournament time.
“Hey, I was once told by a wise man that to be the best you got to beat the best,” Niang said. “So why not us?”