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Basketball

Williams Blog: Solid outing for hoops before break

By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com Publisher
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams

I’m not sure where any negative energy is coming from as a result of Iowa State’s 81-64 win over Lipscomb last night.

Sure, former Ames High Little Cyclone Burgason went “Thunder” Dan Majerle all over the Cyclones, connecting on 9 of his 14 3-point attempts, but the rest of Lipscomb’s roster combined to shoot 38 percent from the field.

There were a few lapses, but Iowa State’s defense has actually been pretty good over the course of the last two games. I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw from the Cyclones in their final game before the holiday break.

— The most encouraging thing that I saw last night in Hilton Coliseum was the aggressiveness that Chris Allen brought to the floor.  In his best game of the season, Allen scored 23 points after having what we’ll refer to as a little heart-to-heart meeting with Fred Hoiberg earlier in the week. I’ve written this numerous times now, but I fully expect Chris Allen to be Iowa State’s leading scorer at the end of the season.

— Another encouraging note: So many times this year, we’ve seen the opposition put together a little run against Iowa State and at that time, the Cyclones weren’t mentally tough enough to bounce back. The Northern Iowa game comes to mind. Heck, so does Central Michigan on Sunday. Really for the first time I remember, this team responded very well to any and all Lipscomb runs on Wednesday.

“Our guys stuck with it,” said Fred Hoiberg after the game. “Earlier in the year they come over with their heads down. They ran over. They were attentive. We had eye contact and they went out there and responded. They cut it to eight and we’d push it right back up to 14. That’s what you have to do. We found a way to close out a game.”

— More encouragement (I’m having fun being positive today): Melvin Ejim ripped down 10 rebounds in 23 minutes last night. It was good to see Ejim get involved in ways other than scoring. If the sophomore keeps crashing the boards, easy buckets will follow.

— Once again, Tyrus McGee was a spark plug for the Cyclones. Dude can dunk it. This might not be a popular opinion, but I happen to love McGee coming off of the bench. I think that Hoiberg has that right.

— I’m not worried about Chris Babb. The junior is struggling right now but as Hoiberg put it, this is a game of inches. Babb needs a few days off to rest his mind. He’ll snap out of this slump eventually.

— Sure, Royce White was responsible for six turnovers on Wednesday but the big man should have had double-digit assists too. Too many times, his teammates missed wide open shots as a result of some sick Royce White passes. Hopefully the rest of the team will get used to this going forward.

— To wrap things up, I was a little bit concerned while driving to Hilton on Wednesday night. All day long, I had seen quite a few tweets from players about how they couldn’t wait to get home. That made me nervous. In front of a half empty arena with all of the distractions in the world, the Cyclones played one of their most focused games of the season. That doesn’t guarantee anybody anything going forward, but it’s a positive note heading into the holidays.

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