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AMES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa State's national title hopes took a big hit Tuesday as the Cyclones said starting guard Naz Mitrou-Long would miss the rest of his senior season because of his ailing hips.
The fifth-ranked Cyclones said Tuesday that Mitrou-Long's surgically repaired hips haven't responded the way he would like. He had arthroscopic surgery on his left hip in April and on his right hip in May after playing through pain in 2014-15.
Mitrou-Long says he will seek a medical redshirt after playing eight games and averaging 12 points. Mitrou-Long missed Sunday's win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, but apparently the rest didn't help his discomfort.
"Following the surgery, I pushed myself incredibly hard to be ready for the season opener," he said. "As I've said before, I knew I might not be 100 percent, but I wanted to give it a go for my team. I feel the need to take time off to allow myself to rehab... to get back to where I can perform at my peak level,"
Mitrou-Long's absence will put added pressure on Iowa State's top six players and transfer Deonte Burton, who will be eligible for Saturday's game against Northern Iowa.
The Cyclones (9-0) will miss Mitrou-Long's clutch 3-point shooting. Long made 77 3s last season despite persistent discomfort. In 2013-14, Long went 7 from 10 beyond the arc to help Iowa State win the Big 12 tournament, and he hit three 3s in the final 5:10 to help the Cyclones reach the Sweet Sixteen.
At 6-foot-4 and roughly 250 pounds, Burton is more of a transition forward than Long, a traditional shooting guard. The challenge of replacing Mitrou-Long's production might fall more on junior Matt Thomas, who has scored 35 points the last two games.
"Naz is a terrific person and an important part of our team both on and off the court. I'm confident his teammates will come together and respond to this in a positive manner," Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said.
Should Mitrou-Long be awarded a medical redshirt, Iowa State's prospects for next year suddenly look a lot better.
The Cyclones will lose stars Georges Niang and Jameel McKay and forward Abdel Nader, and standout point guard Monte Morris could jump to the NBA. But if a healthy Long joins Thomas, Burton, guard Hallice Cooke and an expected infusion of junior college talent, Iowa State could challenge for another strong Big 12 finish.
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