Georges Niang scored 28 points to lead fourth-seed Iowa State past 12th-seed Little Rock, 78-61, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Denver.

It’s the Cyclones first Sweet 16 appearance in two years and only the fifth in school history.

Niang said to be having the tournament he’s having right now,

“This is sweet, you know. For sure, I was joking with Naz Long, you didn’t earn the last Sweet 16 you were in. I made sure to tell him I earned this one.”

An 11-0 run by Iowa State put them ahead 53-33 with 13 minutes left. Little Rock failed to get closer than 13 points the rest of the way.

Head coach Steve Prohm said, “I think our guys getting to watch them (Little Rock) up close and personal yesterday, me coming from a mid-major, I think we had a great deal of respect for them. I think our kids had a great deal of focus.”

Iowa State (23-11) shot 56.6 percent from the field. The Cyclones were 11-of-21, 52.4 percent, from deep. Matt Thomas added 16 points, including four 3-pointers. Iowa State committed only six turnovers.

Little Rock (30-5) was led by Roger Woods with 19 points and ten rebounds. The Trojans shot 37 percent from the floor. Thursday’s hero, Josh Hagins, was held to only eight points on 3-of-8 shooting.

Thomas said of Monte Morris’ defense on Hagins, “I think Monte personally did an unbelievable job just himself in one-on-one situations, iso’s, keeping him in front, taking away his shot.”

The Cyclones held a 26-24 lead with 5:25 left in the first half. They ended the first half on a 14-4 spurt for a 40-28 halftime lead. Niang scored eight straight points in the stretch.

Iowa State advances to a Regional Semifinal in Chicago next Friday against top-seed Virginia.