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March 18, 2013

Caught up in a cyclone

Here are some fast facts about the No. 10 seed in the West Regional Iowa State (22-11, 11-7) which is making its second straight NCAA tournament appearance but just its 14th since 1985.

Everything happens in threes
The Cyclones have made (325) and attempted (878) more three-pointers than any team in the country. Only Illinois (815), Eastern Kentucky (812), and Mount St. Mary’s (811) have attempted as many as 800 three-pointers. Iowa State is the only team to make as many as 300 three-pointers. The Cyclones convert .370 of their attempts (53rd nationally).

Iowa State has five players with at least 95 three-point attempts. Tyrus McGee has converted an incomparable 90-of-197 (.457). Notre Dame is 45th in the country in three-point percentage at .373. The Irish have made 224-of-600 three-point attempts.

Scoring the basketball
Notre Dame averages 66.7 points per game. They scored as many as 80 points nine times this season, but seven of those came before the start of conference play. Both 80-point-plus outputs during the conference schedule were overtime games.

Iowa State scored at least 80 points 19 times this season while averaging 79.6 points per game. Four players average double figures and two others are at 9.3 and 9.9 points per game.

Players to know
Iowa State is led by Will Clyburn, a 6-foot-7 senior, who is scoring at a 15-point clip with 7.1 rebounds per game. He’s shooting just .315 from three-point range. Three others average in double figures 6-foot-2 Tyrus McGee, 6-foot-7, 245-pound Georges Niang, and 6-foot-6, 230-pound Melvin Ejim.

McGee has started just two games and logs a mere 24 minutes of action per game. Yet he’s second on the team in scoring at 13.2 and is always ready to let it fly. Niang averages 12.0 points and 4.5 rebounds. Ejim averages 11.2 points and 9.3 rebounds in just 27 minutes per game.

Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg has thrived with transfers. McGee is a junior college transfer who has converted 90-of-197 three-point attempts for a phenomenal 45.7 percentage.

Three other transfers make contributions. Former Michigan State guard Korie Lucious averages 9.9 points per game while Penn State transfer Chris Babb tosses in 9.3 points per game. Southern Illinois transfer Anthony Booker also comes off the bench.

Balancing act
Since November, no Iowa State player has led the team in scoring more than two games in a row. Tyrus McGee paced the Cyclones in scoring in four straight games early in the season. But over the final 28 games, only Will Clyburn led the team in scoring as many as two games in a row. (He did it four times.) No other player led the team in scoring for more than one game in a row. Seven different players paced them in scoring.

Hoiberg and hoisting
The former Cyclone standout who played 10 years in the NBA for the Pacers, Bulls and Timberwolves scored 1,993 points during his four-year career at Iowa State. It’s no wonder his teams like to shoot the three-pointer. Hoiberg attempted 457 three-pointers during his collegiate career, connecting on 183 (.400).

After retiring from the NBA, he worked for the Timberwolves before being named the head coach of the Cyclones. In three seasons, he has a 61-38 mark in Ames, including a 23-11 record in 2011-12 and a 22-11 mark this season.

By his second season, he had Iowa State in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005. Last year, in its first game in the NCAA tournament, the Cyclones defeated Connecticut.

Overtime too much time
The Cyclones finished fourth in the Big 12 with an 11-7 conference record, behind Kansas (14-4), Kansas State (14-4) and Oklahoma State (13-5). They could have finished higher had they achieved some success in overtime. Iowa State was 0-3 in overtime during the regular season, including two losses to No. 1 seed Kansas (97-89 in Lawrence and 108-96 in Ames). The Cyclones also lost in double-overtime at Texas, 89-86.

Notre Dame played four overtime games in 2012-13, losing the first in Brooklyn against St. Joseph’s (79-70) before winning its final three. The Irish won three overtime games in a four-game span: 79-71 at DePaul, 104-101 in five overtimes at home against Louisville, and 82-78 to DePaul at Purcell Pavilion.

Good/bad losses
The Cyclones defeated Kansas State, which tied for the conference championship, at home; Oklahoma State, which finished third, at home; and Oklahoma, which tied Iowa State for fourth, at home.

Iowa State lost at Iowa during the non-conference portion of its schedule, at Texas Tech, which finished 9th out of 10 teams in the Big 12 with a 3-15 mark, and at Texas, which finished 7th and 7-11 in the Big 12.

The long and winding road
The Cyclones were an impressive 8-1 at home during the Big 12 season with their only loss coming to Kansas. On the road, however, Iowa State struggled. The Cyclones were 3-6 in the Big 12 away from Hilton Coliseum, and 4-8 overall. The Cyclones split their four neutral site games.

Iowa State’s only road victories in conference play came against last-place TCU, 6th-place Baylor, and 8th place West Virginia.

Common opponents
Notre Dame and Iowa State both played Cincinnati and BYU. Notre Dame was 3-0 against those two teams while Iowa State was 1-1. The Irish defeated BYU in Brooklyn, 78-68, and swept Cincinnati on the road (66-60) and at home (62-41). The Cyclones lost to Cincinnati on Nov. 23 in Las Vegas, 78-70, and defeated BYU on Dec. 1 at home, 83-62.

One and done
Notre Dame and Iowa State have played on the hardwood just one previous time. On Dec. 3, 1979, the Cyclones came to the Athletic & Convocation Center (as it was called then) to take on Digger Phelps’ Irish. Notre Dame, which would finish 22-6 that season, was ranked No. 4 in the country when it defeated the Cyclones, 87-77. Iowa State finished 11-16 in 1979-80.

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