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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, December 22, 5:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Stan Sheriff Center (10,300) -- Honolulu, Hawaii. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Iowa State 6-0, George Mason 4-1. Away Record: Iowa State 1-0, George Mason 1-2. Neutral Record: Iowa State 1-0, George Mason 0-1. Conference Record: Iowa State 0-0, George Mason 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The undefeated and 17th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones take their act on the road for the next few days as they take part in the annual Diamond Head Classic, tipping off the event with a meeting against George Mason this afternoon at the Stan Sheriff Center.
At 8-0, the Cyclones have matched their second-best start in program history and now they are shooting to exceed the 10-0 mark they produced back in 1996-97. The only program in the Big 12 that is still undefeated and one of only a handful of schools at the Division I level that can also make that claim, the Cyclones have been out of action since taking out 23rd-ranked Iowa back on Dec. 13 by a score of 85-82.
As for the Patriots, they opened the 2013-14 campaign with four straight victories, but since then there has been just one more victory in five chances. Most recently, the team battled Oklahoma back on Dec. 8 and came up short in an 81-66 final in Washington, marking the team's second straight setback.
The winner of this first-ever meeting will take on the survivor of the Oregon State/Akron clash in the next round on Monday.
Iowa State trailed by double digits against in-state rival Iowa in the first half of their meeting, but in the second half the Cyclones went on the attack with 57.1 percent shooting from the floor in order to battle back and claim the win. Georges Niang was the leading scorer with 24 points, Melvin Ejim added 22 and Naz Long 13 points, but it was Dustin Hogue who seemed to be the most active player for ISU with his 12 points and team-best 16 rebounds.
Hogue, a 60.3 percent shooter from the floor, is currently averaging a double- double with 12.6 points and a team-best 11.1 rebounds per game. As great as he may be in the paint though, even by accident Hogue should have more than six assists by now. Ejim (18.7 ppg) is also someone who can hit the glass with his 7.7 rpg, while Niang (14.5 ppg) and DeAndre Kane (14.1 ppg) combine to produce 79 assists in order to keep teammates involved in the action at the offensive end of the floor.
Knocking down only eight field goals in the first half against Oklahoma two weeks ago, the Patriots dug themselves a deep enough hole that they never truly challenged the rest of the way. Bryon Allen scored 15 points for the locals in the nation's capital, shooting 5-of-17 from the field and 3-of-9 behind the 3-point line, but no one else was able to land in double figures. George Mason shot only 30.2 percent from the floor, was crushed on the boards (51-29) and outscored in the paint by a massive 50-20 margin.
Hard to believe, but even after being completely dominated by the Sooners on the backboards George Mason still holds a rebounding advantage of 1.6 rpg versus the competition. Marko Gujanicic is responsible not only for a team- best 6.4 rpg, he is also third on the team's scoring list with 11.4 ppg, trailing only Sherrod Wright (16.3 ppg) and Allen (11.9 ppg). Allen is shooting under 40 percent from the floor, but his 30 assists are still a great reason to have him involved in the action as much as possible.
With such a balanced and diverse attack coming from all angles, the Cyclones are a team that could easily blow through this tournament, and that dominance begins with a win today versus George Mason.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Iowa State 88, George Mason 63
12/22 10:57:35 ET