Cyclones fight off Drake in Big Four Classic

DES MOINES —  Fred Hoiberg knew that Drake would be a tough test for his team. The Bulldogs proved that to be true Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena. The Cyclones held on to beat their in-state rival Bulldogs 86-77 in the inaugural Big Four Classic. 

Melvin Ejim led all scorers with his fourth double-double of the season, 21 points and 11 rebounds.

"I was running the floor really well," said Ejim. "Guys were passing the ball up and giving me the ball in spots where I could do something with it."

Ejim fought hard and drew contact all night long, getting to the free throw line 14 times. The team as a whole got to the line 41 times. The junior joked that the referees must have like him for being able to get to the line so many times.

"I kept attacking the basket strong, trying to go up and finsih and I got to the free throw line," said Ejim.

"He (Ejim) had it going," said Hoiberg. "We had a coupe of their guys in foul trouble so we kept going to him…I thought Melvin was teriffic tonight."

Hoiberg stuck Ejim back in the starting rotation along with Percy Gibson. Georges Niang and Anthony Booker came off the bench midway through the first half. " I like all four of those guys, who starts on any given night doesn’t matter to me," said Hoiberg.

Chris Babb and Niang both added 13 points a piece. Gibson had 8 points and Korie Lucious played a clean game with 7 and only 3 turnovers.

Iowa State held Drake’s two leading scorers, Ben Simons and Jordan Clarke, to a combined 19 points. Seth VanDeest was the Bulldogs’ leading scorer with 18.

The Cyclones continue to be a dangerous team when leading at halftime. Tthey are now 8-1 when leading at the break. 

Iowa State (8-3) is back in action on Wednesday as they travel to UMKC. 

Quick Facts

— Iowa State is 2-2 now in games played at Wells Fargo Arena.

— Melvin Ejim’s 21 points were a season high.

— Tyrus McGee has hit a three-pointer in 11-straight games. He only hit one against Drake.

— The Cyclones have outrebounded their opponent in 10 of their 11 games this season (ISU-45, Drake-30. 

— Drake made more shots (27) than Iowa State (26).

— There were 52 fouls combined in the game (31 on Drake, 21 on Iowa State).



Matt Van Winkle