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The Spectrum's scouting report: Iowa State Cyclones

Buffalo takes on No. 5 team in the country Iowa State

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Things aren’t going to get any easier for the men’s basketball team.

On Saturday, the Bulls (4-4) lost to the reigning national champions, No. 7 Duke, 82-59 in Cameron Indoor Stadium and it won’t be the last time this week Buffalo faces elite talent.

On Monday night, the Bulls continue their road trip with a stop at No. 5 Iowa State (6-0) at the Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. The Cyclones play a veteran lineup chock full of juniors and seniors who have had experience in the postseason and atop the nation’s rankings.

Iowa State was a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament last season before being shocked by No. 14 University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in the second round of the tournament.

Iowa State’s roster and championship hopes have carried through to this season. It returned most of last season’s and it’s debatable that they’re even better this season.

The Spectrum broke down which players you need to know about.

Georges Niang, senior forward

The 6-foot-8 power forward will likely be the biggest matchup nightmare for Buffalo.

Niang, a touted prospect coming out of high school, lived up to his hype as a Cyclone. In his senior year, he’s averaging 16.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while leading his squad to a top-5 ranking.

He’s a type of player that can do it all. His size and natural athleticism allows him to stay aggressive in the post for rebounds and will have no problem taking the ball down the lane and driving in for a quick lay up. He has a devastating spin move when he’s 1-on-1 in the paint and is able to pull back and hit the jumper if needed.

And he can shoot the three.

Niang can shoot from anywhere on the court, including from both corners and the top of the key. He is a natural shooter with a smooth stroke who shoots the ball high to prevent any of his shots to be blocked.

He will most likely be matched up against 6-foot-6 Buffalo senior forward/guard Rodell Wigginton.

Monte Morris, junior guard

The Bulls have played talented guards in the past week, from St. Bonaventure’s Marcus Posley to Duke’s Grayson Allen.

But Morris may be the best guard Buffalo will face this season.

He is a freakish athlete with a substantial basketball IQ – very similar to Mid-American Conference Player of the Year candidate Chris Fowler of Central Michigan.

He is tied for second on the team with 15.3 points per game, with all of those points coming in many different facets. He can turn a corner on a dime and drive to the hoop for an easy basket and he’ll have no problem stopping in his tracks to hit a jumper or three-pointer.

But he’s not only a shooter. Morris ranked No. 1 in the nation last season in assist to turnover ratio.

What’s lacking about his game is explosiveness. He is projected to go in the second round of the 2016 NBA Draft, but can be considered a first-rounder if his breakaway speed picks up. Nonetheless, he’ll have no problem handling the Buffalo’s defense.

Jameel McKay, senior center

McKay will be the first player to make Buffalo realize that it needs a lot of help for post play.

McKay is a natural center whose main job is to dominate the post – and he’s done just that this season. He averages a double-double – 14 points and 11.8 rebounds per game – and primarily scores all of his points in the paint.

He’s a matchup nightmare, even if he isn’t the biggest player on the court. He is one of the most aggressive players on the ball and has intelligent court awareness, especially down in the paint.

He can work a player 1-on-1 in the low key and use one of his trademark baby hooks or drop-step layups toward the basket. If he’s left uncovered in the paint, it’s usually an automatic basket for the Cyclones.

This season, Buffalo has had problem defending the post with its inexperienced lineup of freshmen Ikenna Smart and Nick Perkins.

Buffalo’s best hope to defend McKay will be to get him to the free throw line, where the senior is shooting just 30 percent.

Monday’s tipoff is set for 9 p.m.

Jordan Grossman is the co-senior sports editor and can be reached at jordan.grossman@ubspectrum.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jordanmgrossman.


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