GAME NOTES: Matching their best start in program history, the 14th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones close out the Diamond Head Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center against the Boise State Broncos in the title game on Christmas Day.
The Cyclones are one of nine Division I programs still undefeated at this point in the campaign, producing a mark of 10-0 to equal the start generated by the 1996-97 ISU squad. Iowa State arrived in Honolulu after defeating in- state rival Iowa by a mere three points, but the games on the island have been far more comfortable, with the squad taking out George Mason in the first round, 79-67, and following that up with an 83-60 thrashing of Akron two days ago.
As for the Broncos, they too have 10 wins at the moment, although those are coupled with a pair of defeats against Kentucky and Saint Mary's back on the mainland. Boise State kicked off this event with a narrow 62-61 victory over host Hawaii on Sunday night and followed that up with a far more convincing 80-54 blowout of South Carolina on Monday in order to advance to the title game.
In terms of the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, this is the first-ever meeting.
Akron caught the Cyclones napping early on in their meeting on Monday, moving out to an eight-point lead with just under nine minutes to play in the first half, but ISU responded. The Cyclones managed to take a 37-31 lead into the break based on 51.9 percent shooting from the floor and then pulled away in the second half with 55.2 percent accuracy. Except for Matt Thomas, who finished with just three points, every starter landed in double figures for the Cyclones, beginning with Melvin Ejim who registered a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Georges Niang accounted for a game-high 22 points. Dustin Hogue pitched in with 18 pints and DeAndre Kane supplemented his 15 points and 11 rebounds with five assists.
While he may be the last of the double-digit scorers for Iowa State with 13.6 ppg, Hogue continues to play a huge role in the paint for the group with his 10.4 rpg, aiding the team with a rebounding advantage of 6.5 rpg. Ejim (18.4 ppg) hits the glass to the tune of 8.6 rpg and Kane (14.1 ppg, 59 assists) chips in 7.7 rpg.
Anthony Drmic scored a game-high 30 points as the Broncos crushed the South Carolina Gamecocks by 26 points in the semifinals of the tourney on Monday. Drmic shot 10-of-17 from the floor and 8-of-11 at the free-throw line, adding six rebounds for the Broncos. Mikey Thompson came off the bench to provide 10 points, while Jeff Elorriaga and Ryan Watkins responded with nine and eight points, respectively. Defensively, Boise State held the Gamecocks to just 37.3 percent shooting from the floor, including 4-of-16 behind the 3-point line, and forced 18 turnovers.
So far the defense for the Broncos has limited the competition to just 68.6 ppg. While it may sound like a significant number in some cases, it pales in comparison to the 83.8 ppg generated by the BSU offense. Drmic is doing much of the damage with 19.8 ppg, followed by Derrick Marks with 15.8 ppg. Elorriaga (12.2 ppg) tends to pick his spots, but when he lines it up from 3- point range there's no one better, as he connects on 59.1 percent (39-of-66) of his perimeter attempts.
Both of these teams have the potential to light up the scoreboard, but the difference in this meeting will most likely come on the glass where Iowa State tends to dominate more often than not.
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