By Rob Gray
AMES — Boise State sagged, so Iowa State’s DeAndre Kane struck.
The No. 13 Cyclones’ versatile, but interior-focused point guard drained four of six 3-pointers in last week’s 70-66 Diamond Head Classic title win over the Broncos.
More to come?
“I don’t know,” said Kane, who enters today’s 6 p.m. matchup with Northern Illinois (5-5) at Hilton Coliseum averaging 14.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists. “Hopefully. Like I said, if those guys back up, I’m going to shoot the 3. So I guess we’ll just see.”
Kane’s uncharacteristic eruption from the perimeter amounts to a pretty big deal for ISU (11-0), which is already off to its best start in school history.
If the 6-4, 200-pound Marshall transfer's outside shot becomes a modestly consistent threat, the last remaining stratagem employed by opposing defenses may be rendered moot.
“DeAndre shoots the ball very well in practice,” Cyclone Coach Fred Hoiberg said of Kane, who earned Big 12 player of the week honors this week. “Just to step up and knock down those shots was huge, I think, for his confidence. He does so much for us.”
That’s why Boise State coaches decided to grant him free reign from beyond the arc — that and the fact he entered the game 14 of his last 66 from long range (21.2 percent).
“I’m going to shoot the ball whether they go in or not,” the fifth-year senior said. “I have confidence that it will start going in and it did out there in Hawaii. So if they continue to lay off me, that’s on them. But like I said, I’m going to continue to shoot the 3.”
Kane hit his 3s against the Broncos in key spots.
His first cut a 26-19 deficit to 26-22.
His second pulled ISU within 29-27 with 1:29 left in the first half.
His third turned a one-point lead into a four-point edge and his final 3 made the score 65-60 with 1:53 left.
“Whenever you can have a guy like that who can take some weight of your shoulders and perform tremendously in big games, that’s huge for us,” ISU forward Georges Niang said. “You saw in that championship game in Hawaii he basically willed us to win and wasn’t going to let us lose.”
A win over the Huskies would give the Cyclones a pre-conference season sweep for the first time since the 1940s, which is also a pretty big deal.
“We’re just trying to focus on us this game — trying to focus on getting great starts and correcting those things that have hurt us in the past games,” ISU forward Melvin Ejim said. “We’re just really more focused on what we’ve got to do right now, but we know they’re a good team, a tough team.”
Tough enough to find a way to neutralize Kane, Ejim, Niang and Dustin Hogue, among others?
Like Kane said, “We’ll see.”
“The whole team is sharing the spotlight, which I think is really great,” said Ejim, who along with Kane is one of five Cyclones to be named the conference’s player of the week — a first for the Big 12 in a single season. “When we win and we play like this, everyone gets to shine.”
MCKAY TRANSFER OFFICIAL: Former Marquette player Jameel McKay made his transfer to ISU official Monday.
The two-time first-team NJCAA all-American verbally committed in November.
McKay, who stands 6-8 and can produce inside and outside, is expected to be able to play for the Cyclones beginning Dec. 20, 2014, and retains one and a half seasons of eligibility.“He’s skilled and he can really rebound,” Hoiberg said. “So losing Melvin after this year, and DeAndre — two really good rebounders, to have someone of that caliber that can come in and help you in that area is huge for us.”