The Iowa State Cyclones advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second time in the last three years with a 78-61 win over Arkansas-Little Rock Saturday in Denver Colorado.
Senior George Niang led ISU with 28 points and 6 rebounds as the 4th seed put away any thought of a second straight upset by Arkansas-Little Rock. Matt Thomas had 16 points.
“I think our kids had a great deal of focus. In the big scheme of things, I’m extremely proud of our guys. We just been through a lot this year, since I got the job in June. Just getting to know each other, relationships, figuring out the best way for us to play, meeting each other halfway on things,” Head Coach Steve Prohm said in the post game news conference.
“Me and Georges were in a meeting Monday night talking with each other. The biggest thing was we just didn’t want to let each other down going forward. We’ve got a really good basketball team. I think everybody showed that. We were almost kind of the underdogs here. Nobody has really picked us in both games.”
Prohm said he told the team he hopes this isn’t their most special moment. “I want bigger moments for them in life and basketball going forward. I really believe, and said this all year f you stay the course and do the right things, special things will happen. There’s more things in store for this basketball team. I truly believe that.”
Niang talked about the win. “This is sweet, you know. For sure, I was joking with Naz long, You didn’t earn the last Sweet 16 you were in. I made sure to tell him I earned this one. That’s not what we aspire for. Like coach says, he wants bigger things for us. We want bigger things for ourselves so we’re going to keep fighting.”
Iowa State moves on to play Friday game against either top-seeded Virginia or Butler at the United Center in Chicago.