Royce White dazzles in Cyclones debut
New forward's dunking already a YouTube sensation
AMES — Royce White, soared, slammed, then roared.
By halftime, one of the Iowa State forward’s highlight dunks had hit YouTube.
And by game's end, the touted transfer from Minnesota owned a line of 25 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and two crowd-pleasing dunks in an 86-77 season-opening triumph over Lehigh at Hilton Coliseum.
“A couple of those dunks were just big-time plays,” said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg, whose team used a 31-12 second-half spurt to pull away from the Mountain Hawks.
Video of one of White’s cross-over dribble-sparked dunks — which drew thunderous applause from the crowd of 13,343 — was uploaded to the web by ISU athletics within minutes of its execution.
It came with eight seconds left in the first half and with the Cyclones (1-0) clinging to a 39-37 lead.
“When I penetrate, it’s usually a penetrate to kick type deal,” said White, who also had two assists and six turnovers. “And they weren’t really sagging in, because they hadn’t really seen me play that much. They probably didn’t respect me that much going to the basket, so when I saw that they weren’t stepping in, I just thought to myself, get it up there on the basket, because there’s no pass. So it was really a last resort thing.”
As the crowd screamed, White — who hadn’t played in a meaningful game in two years — raised both arms, beckoning more.
“Im just excited to finally see him explode like that in a game situation,” said fellow transfer Chris Babb, one of five ISU players to score in double figures with 10. “We’ve seen it in practice and saw it in the summer. He kind of just exploded out, came out of his shell.”
Hoiberg was less pleased with the game’s finish.
Lehigh (0-2) chopped 17 points off a 26-point deficit in the final 7:37.
The Cyclones committed seven of their 18 turnovers in the final 5:26 and were outscored 8-0 to end the game.
“That’s unacceptable,” Hoiberg said. “Just talked to the guys about continuing to play: Keep pushing, keep putting the pressure on the defense.”
ISU excelled in what many consider a potential problem area: rebounding.
The Cyclones outrebounded the Mountain Hawks 38-28, but allowed 11 offensive boards in the second half, with most coming late.
“It’s a huge emphasis we’ve put in practice, so much so that we haven’t been able to work on a few of the other things because we’re really getting after each other on the rebounding end,” Hoiberg said. “So, happy with it, but it can still get better.”
The Cyclones shot 10-of-22 from three-point range and 65.4 percent overall in the second half.
Scott Christopherson drained a three in his 35th straight game and scored 12 points for ISU, while Anthony Booker and Chris Allen sprinkled in 10 apiece.“That’s something that’s really dangerous about our team,” Babb said. “The amount of scorers we have, the amount of options.”