By Rob Gray
AMES — Georges Niang spun, pivoted, posted up and pumped up the crowd.
And that was just his opening act.
Iowa State’s 6-7 sophomore forward dazzled with 16 first-half points in Friday’s eardrum-challenging Cy-Hawk Series showdown against Iowa at Hilton Coliseum — but that was nothing.
Niang’s slick reverse layup with 18 seconds left gave the No. 16 Cyclones a one-point lead en route to a wild 85-82 victory over the No. 22 Hawkeyes that provoked another court crashing from the student section.
While the onlookers exulted, Niang shared hugs — tired hugs — with Iowa’s players in the handshake line.
Cue “Sweet Caroline.”
Cue ISU’s sixth straight win over the Hawkeyes at Hilton — one that closed with a 7-0 run.
Simply call it a jolt of redemption for Niang, who scored 13 points in the first half, but none in the second of last season’s 80-71 loss in Iowa City.
Niang finished with a career-high 24 points and also dished our five assists.
Melvin Ejim added 22 points, DeAndre Kane chipped in nine assists and Dustin Hogue rose up for 16 rebounds as the Cyclones improved to 8-0 for the first time since the 1996-97 season.
It all seemed so improbable, because it was.
Iowa (10-2) led the vast majority of the game and seemed to have an answer ( Aaron White with 25 points, Roy Devyn Marble with 19) for every attempted ISU run.
Hogue turned an offensive rebound and putback into a 3-point play with 9:37 left that gave the Cyclones just their third lead of the game.
That play capped a 14-4 run and once tightened, the game remained extremely tense.
Iowa led by as many as 10 points late in the first half, but never pushed its advantage beyond five after the Cyclones’ big splurge.
ISU finally turned hanging around into victory with a 7-0 run in the final 1:29.
Niang hit two free throws — after missing a pair moments earlier.
Ejim added two more and Iowa’s Marble missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Niang then drove the baseline, spun in the reverse layup and two more missed Hawkeye free throws later, Hogue put the Cyclones up 85-82 with 12 seconds left.
Iowa’s last gasp 3 try from Zach McCabe missed and the stunned Hawkeyes were left shaking their heads again at Hilton — despite out rebounding ISU 49 to 35.
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