By Ian Smith, CycloneFanatic.com Contributor
Chalk it up to finals week or the lackluster opponent, but Iowa State slept walked through the first half.
That changed quickly after the break. The Cyclones (10-2) routed Dartmouth (3-7), 71-42, after outscoring the Big Green 43-15 in the final 20 minutes.
“In the second half, we just buckled down,” Bubu Palo said. “The crowd gave us a little bit of energy. We started to get some buckets and that led to our defense.”
With the victory, Iowa State became the 12th team in school history to win 10 of its first 12 games, and the first since 2003-04.
A close game – the Cyclones led just 28-27 at halftime – turned into a laugher thanks to a stifling defense a barrage of 3-pointers. At one point, the Cyclones drilled five-straight treys. Meanwhile, the defense smothered Dartmouth as Iowa State went on a 26-5 run to start the half.
“The big difference is we wanted to extend our pressure (in the second half),” Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. “With our numbers, we don’t press as much as we’d like too, but we had to change something up. The fact that Diante (Garrett) got up full court, Melvin (Ejim) was up there picking up, I really thought that was the difference. We extended out, tried to plug the passing lanes, that led to some turnovers. That got us out and running.”
The offense started to find its rhythm when Bubu Palo sliced through the Big Green defense for a nifty layup. A bevy of 3-pointers followed. On consecutive possessions, Diante Garrett, Scott Christopherson, Palo (two of them) and Jamie Vanderbeken all hit threes to push the Cyclones’ advantage to 54-32.
From there, the only thing in doubt was the final score.
Player of the Game
When Diante Garrett is on, he can light up a scoreboard with ease. On Sunday afternoon, the senior did just that. Using a sweet stroke from the outside, Garrett tallied a game-high 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting.
“I just looked for my spots where I could score,” Garrett said. “It was flowing through our offense and I was picking it apart, trying to find where I was going to get my baskets from and create for my teammates.”
Garrett is quietly marching his way up a couple of impressive lists. With 27 points against Dartmouth, he became the 28th player in Iowa State history to top 1,000 points in his career, and now has 1,017.
“I’m happy to be apart of it,” Garrett said. “To go down in history and be a part of the (1,000 point club) feels good.”
Not only that, with 15 more assists, Garrett will become only the third player in Iowa State history with 1,000 points and 500 assists. Jeff Hornacek (1,313 points, 665 assists) and Terry Woods (1,032 points, 564) are the other two players.
Garrett also ranks fifth all-time with 76 consecutive starts.
“Garrett works his tail off everyday,” Hoiberg said. “He’s the Energizer Bunny for us. He never gets tired.”
He certainly didn’t on Sunday. The senior spent the week long layoff between games working on his shot. After tweaking a couple of things, Garrett showed a smooth delivery while scoring eight of Iowa State’s first 11 points of the game.
“I think the one guy this week that really benefited (from the break) was Diante,” Hoiberg said. “He was able to get in the gym and get up extra shots, work on his technique.”
Bubu sparks Cyclones
Iowa State knows it can expect defense and energy from Bubu Palo. If the freshman hits shots like he did on Sunday, he just might start seeing more playing time.
“I just try to come in and bring energy, get some hustle plays,” Palo said. “If the opportunity shows to knock down some open jump shots, I’ll try to knock them down.”
Palo’s 3-pointer in the first half pushed Iowa State ahead, 20-19. Later, the Ames native started a 26-6 run with a nifty layup. Palo added two more 3-pointers and finished the game with 11 points.
“Bubu, I thought was a difference maker tonight,” Hoiberg said. “Bubu always gives great energy on the defensive end.
“He’s been reluctant to shoot the ball. He’s got to step up and shoot it. If it goes in, obviously that’s great. But still, to spread the defense out, he’s got to rise up and shoot that shot. I thought he really did a good job.”
– Scott Christopherson’s 3-pointer early in the second half moved his streak of consecutive games with a 3-pointer to 15.
– Melvin Ejim drew the loudest cheers of the game when he raced down court and rejected a Dartmouth breakaway layup into the Iowa State bench.
– Iowa State outrebounded Dartmouth 45-31 thanks to a plus 13 advantage in the second half.
Iowa State is back in action on Tuesday when it hosts Chicago State at 7 p.m. The Cougars will enter the game with a 3-10 record after getting routed by Hawaii, 86-57, Friday night. Carl Montgomery leads Chicago State with 12.6 points per game.
After Tuesday’s tilt with the Cougars, Iowa State doesn’t play again until Dec. 30 at Virginia.