For any college basketball team, a player like Georges Niang cannot simply be replaced. He was the third-leading scorer for the Iowa State basketball team this year and his presence was greatly missed during the Cyclones’ Round of 32 nail-biting victory over North Carolina. However, Iowa State survived because DeAndre Kane stepped up to carry his team when Niang’s absence was felt. The Cyclones can expect more of the same from Kane and his teammates as their march toward the Final Four continues this weekend against UConn.
The Huskies play terrific defense and that’s why they were able to knock off Villanova, the No. 2 seed in the East region. They play well as a team and are an underrated squad overall, much like the Cyclones. But if Iowa State’s leaders like Kane, Melvin Ejim and Dustin Hogue continue to elevate their games in Niang’s absence, there’s no reason why the Cyclones can’t topple UConn and then give the winner of Virginia and Michigan State a run for its money in the Elite Eight.
Kane averages over 17 points, almost seven rebound and nearly six assists per game, but he upped those numbers just enough against UNC to get the win: 24, 10 and seven.
Likewise, Ejim and Hogue’s numbers were higher than usual, and although numbers don’t mean everything, they are evidence that Iowa State is a team that doesn’t revolve around one player. Now against UConn, a team that is undoubtedly better than North Carolina, these Cyclone leaders will have to take it up one more notch, but after witnessing their drive and determination in the Round of 32, we’re not doubting them again, even without Niang.