Iowa St.-Akron Preview

The Associated Press

Iowa State didn't score at its usual rapid pace in its opener in Hawaii but played well enough to move to the brink of matching its best start in school history.

The 17th-ranked Cyclones will try to accomplish that feat Monday against Akron in the Diamond Head Classic semifinals.

Iowa State (9-0) averaged an NCAA-best 90.9 points in its first eight games but was held a bit below that mark in a 79-67 win over George Mason on Sunday. The Patriots' attempt to slow down the tempo didn't help, and neither did the off-court activities the Cyclones attended as part of the tournament, according to coach Fred Hoiberg.

"It's always tough to get legs under you after 2 1/2 days of having activities, going out to Pearl Harbor and experiencing that, and guys at the beach a little bit," he said.

Iowa State, shooting 36.1 percent from 3-point range, missed 16 of 21 attempts from beyond the arc Sunday, but another balanced scoring effort helped make up for it. Georges Niang led four players in double figures with 22 points and has topped 20 in three straight games.

Dustin Hogue added 17 points while making 6 of 9 shots. He's connecting at a 70.0 percent clip (21 of 30) in his four games this month and will try to keep that going while helping the Cyclones improve to 10-0 for the first time since 1996-97.

Their attempt to match that start will come against a Zips team that's won five in a row after a 1-2 start and 28 of 33 dating back to last December. Akron's 45.3 percent shooting from 3-point range has played a large role in its current streak, and the team connected on 10 of 26 attempts in an 83-71 win over Oregon State on Sunday.

Junior guard Nyles Evans had five of those 3-pointers en route to matching a career high with 17 points. The team's leading scorer Demetrius Treadwell (14.6 points per game) also had a career high with 24 and is averaging 20.8 points on 65.0 percent shooting in his last four games.

The Zips also held what was previously the nation's best shooting team (53.7 percent) to 43.8 percent.

Akron will try to duplicate that effort while posting its first win over a ranked team in 25 attempts. The Zips have lost their last six games against Top 25 opponents since the start of the 2008-09 season by an average of 13.5 points, including a 77-61 defeat at No. 16 Creighton on Dec. 9, 2012.

The teams are playing each other for the first time, and the winner will advance to the championship game on Christmas Day.