Iowa State lost one of its best players and a key to why the Cyclones are so hard to guard, and it might prevent the No. 3 seed from going much deeper in the NCAA tournament.
Sophomore forward Georges Niang suffered a broken bone in his right foot Friday during a 93-75 victory over North Carolina Central. Barring something Willis Reed-like, Niang won't play again this season after playing an integral role in the win, scoring 24 points. The Cyclones will face the North Carolina Tar Heels on Sunday in a third-round game.
In this video interview at DesMoinesRegister.com, Niang said he landed on another player's foot in the second half and felt a sharp pain
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Iowa State isn't completely reliant on Niang for offense. He is one of three Cyclones who average at least 16 points a game, along with Big 12 player of the year Melvin Ejim and DeAndre Kane. The Cyclones are the sixth highest-scoring team in the nation and it showed when they shot 63.6 percent in their tourney win Friday.
But Niang is a versatile grinder who battles all over the court and is capable of scoring from the perimeter and inside, making him a bit of a matchup nightmare. He sometimes brings the ball up the court for coach Fred Hoiberg and he guards opposing big men. Taking all that out of the Cyclones' arsenal at this stage might be too much to overcome. Hoiberg was mostly using a seven-man rotation entering the tournament. Now his options are even further limited.
Niang tried to hold out hope that he might be told he can somehow play again this season while simultaneously acknowledging it's a long shot.
"These things happen, you know what I mean?" Niang said in his postgame interview. "It's part of the game and you have to respect it. Whatever I'm told to do by coach and the training staff, that's what I'm going to do. I'm just going to wait and see if I'm done."
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