AMES — A shooters mentality is to just keep shooting. On or off, day or night. It just doesn’t matter. A coach like Fred Hoiberg wants to you keep firing away. That’s who Iowa State is.
That’s exactly what Iowa State (15-6, 6-3) did on Monday night in an 83-64 rout over the Oklahoma Sooners (14-7, 5-4). Only two nights after an abysmal 4-for-24 3-point shooting performance in a 79-71 win over Baylor, the Cyclones came out of the gates on a blistering pace, sinking six of its first seven 3-point attempts.
"They shot the heck out of it in practice in Hilton in our shoot around today and I thought that we would shoot it well tonight," said Hoiberg after the game. "I think we have shown that we are going to shoot them and our guys for the most part have stepped up and made them.”
Iowa State ended the night by cooling off a bit in the second half (11-for-27 on the game) but by that time, the damage had already been done.
“We have shooters on this team," said Will Clyburn. "Good shooters are going to keep shooting if they have a bad shooting game or not. Your shot isn’t going to fall every game so its just ups and downs.”
Monday was definitley an up. On a night where the Cyclones scored 83 points, dished out 18 assists on 28 field goals, only turned the basketball over 10 times (a few of those came during junk minutes too) while limiting its opponent to 37 percent shooting, it might have been Iowa State’s most complete game of the season.
“I think we put everything together tonight," said Hoiberg. "It’s certainly something we can build off of. I thought we played very well against Baylor for the most part with the exception of not shooting very well.”
In addition to Clyburn’s 19, Chris Babb, Melvin Ejim and Tyrus McGee scored 12, 12 and 11 points respectively.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Will Clyburn – On the same day that he was labeled the Big 12’s Rookie of the Week for the second Monday in a row, Clyburn went out and shot 70 percent from the field, dropping 19 and five along the way. Four of Clyburn’s five rebounds were on the offensive end.
Clyburn has averaged 21.25 points per game over Iowa State’s last four outings. To state the obvious, Will Clyburn is in a zone right now.
Blowout – Lon Kruger’s postgame press conference summed it up.
"They beat us in pretty much every way," said Kruger. "Fred has them playing great."
This thing was a blowout from the start but if it wasn’t for Oklahoma’s early dominance on the offensive glass (more on this later), it could have been even more lopsided.
“When you put it all together and you shoot the ball like we did tonight, we’re a pretty tough team to beat," said Hoiberg.
It was good to see Iowa State get a big lead, keep a bit lead and extend that big lead. Its no secret that the Cyclones have had trouble putting teams away this season. Iowa State took a 13 point lead into halftime and came out of the gates blazing in the second half, immediately going on a 12-2 run.
“We just wanted to keep staying aggressive," said Clyburn. "You just have to keep playing throughout the game. You never know what can happen. They can go on a run. We can mess up a bunch of times so you just have to keep playing.”
Gibson/Booker combo – This storyline won’t grab any headlines but it might be one of the most important things to come out of the victory.
To state that Iowa State’s two reserve post players, Percy Gibson and Anthony Booker had been struggling as of late would be a massive understatement. When Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang went out of the first half early with foul trouble, each of these men got his opportunity to prove some worth. The duo combined to block six shots in the first half alone, a first half in which Iowa State desperately needed some physicality down low.
“They gave us very important minutes," said Hoiberg. "Percy really bodied up and stayed straight up and down on those shots."
Remember that Booker had not seen the floor in three straight games prior to the Oklahoma victory.
"I thought he had great mentality going in there and blocking shots that looked like baskets," said Hoiberg. "That was huge. We extended the lead when those guys were in the game. When you can do that with your bench and give those guys credit – we shortened our rotation and they stayed positive. I thought they took advantage of their minutes tonight.”
Defending Pledger – You all remember Oklahoma’s sharp-shooting guard, Steven Pledger right? He’s the guy who dropped 38 on the Cyclones in 2010, an 82-76 overtime Iowa State loss. Ever since that fateful day, Pledger has absolutely dreaded meeting up with the Cyclones.
Last season (in two games), Pledger combined to score 14 points while going 7-for-25 from the field against Iowa State. On Monday night, Pledger, who entered the game averaging 11 points per contest, struggled to go 2-for-9 from the field with only five points to his name.
He got Babb’d.
“Chris does such a good job of chasing players," said Hoiberg. "He did the same thing with (Rodney) McGruder. I think four of McGruder’s baskets were run-outs and one was on a switch. Other than that, he did a great job of chasing him.”
It wasn’t just Babb either. Aside from some bad interior defense in the game’s first 10 minutes, Iowa State’s defense play remarkably well in the victory.
“We were guarding the initial actions very well," said Hoiberg. "Our stunts and rotations were off the charts. There was one where Tyrus (McGee) was a half-second late and Fitzgerald hit a shot but other than that I think in the first half, we couldn’t have played any better as far as our game plan was concerned.”
Ejim foul trouble – It’s hard to get very negative about a win like this but for the seventh straight game, the Big 12’s leading rebounder has been in foul trouble. That’s Melvin Ejim, who ended the night with 12 points, seven rebounds and four fouls.
Ejim wasn’t the only Cyclone in foul trouble. Freshman Georges Niang committed four of his own.
The good news is that in this specific scenario, this duo had backup in Gibson and Booker. The foul trouble was a non-factor in the second half.
Defensive rebounding – This is literally the only complaint an Iowa State fan can make about Monday night. Oklahoma recorded a staggering 21 offensive rebounds in its loss, scoring 23 second chance points along the way.
“That was the thing that kept them around in the first half," said Hoiberg. "If we could have got the ball off the glass and pushed it down in transition we really could have stretched it even more in that first half.”
Oklahoma out-rebounded Iowa State 42-33 but as Kruger put it afterwards, his team missed a lot of shots and gave itself plenty of opportunities to crash the glass.
None – No third down after league wins. You should know this by now.
Next up for Iowa State is an important road trip to Kansas State on Saturday at 5 p.m. Kansas State is currently in front of Iowa State in the league standings with a 6-2 mark. The Wildcats will travel to Texas Tech on Tuesday night.