In probably the best game of the NCAA tournament so far, DeAndre Kane proved to be the hero for Iowa State in a dramatic 85-83 win over North Carolina, which ended with a little bit of controversy due to an uncalled timeout, but didn’t deny the Cyclones their trip to the Sweet Sixteen.
Kane, who finished with 24 points, hit a huge shot over the North Carolina defense, leaving the Tar Heels with 1.6 seconds on the clock. Roy Williams was calling for a timeout, calling for his players to call for a time out. Instead, they in-bounded the ball and ran past the midcourt line and then requested one. The clock actually didn’t start for some reason but after some review and discussion, the officials waved off the play and called it a game. North Carolina did deserve that timeout before the ball was inbounded, but once it went in, the officials were right to acknowledge the faulty clock.
The injury to Georges Niang should have been something Iowa State wouldn’t overcome. Their third leading scorer and their tallest starting player. North Carolina lost Brice Johnson, their best player off the bench, after only two minutes of him being on the court. It’s not exactly an even situation, but both teams had their issues with players gone missing.
At the end, one might say it was Kane playing slightly better than Marcus Paige. Paige finished with 19 points as the entire Tar Heels starting lineup finished in double figures: Leslie McDonald had 18 points, Kennedy Meeks finished with 15, James Michael McAdoo scored 14 and J.P. Tokoto had 11. But they were no match for Kane, who took advantage of North Carolina’s inability to close down the paint.
Kane finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists, only the fifth player to do that in NCAA tournament history. He was responsible for 43 out of the 85 points Iowa State had including 15 of the final 17. It’s the sixth game this season that he was responsible for at least half of the Cyclones points.
And in the paint was where this game was decided. Iowa State scored 24 points in the paint during the second half, getting too many uncontested layups and doing quite well on the offensive boards despite missing Niang. The North Carolina defense wasn’t very disciplined, focusing too much on stopping Kane (which they weren’t able to do) then presenting a more solid front, breached too easily by every penetration.
Iowa State were great from beyond the arc, hitting 12-of-26. Naz Long finished with 12 points coming off the bench, all from three pointers. Melvin Ejim was a big help as well, scoring 19 points, as well as Monte Morris with 3-of-4 from three, finishing with 13 points.
This is the first time since 1979 without a North Carolina school in the Sweet Sixteen, and the first time since 1996 in which both North Carolina and Duke are out by the end of the first weekend of the tournament. Times might be really changing with the ACC losing its blue blood dominance. Iowa State, on the other hand, aren’t used to staying in the tournament for this long, but things have changed under Fred Hoiberg, taking his team to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2000.