AMES – Iowa State forward Solomon Young shot a 3-pointer with 1:52 left Saturday against Baylor in Hilton Coliseum. He missed, but freshman big man Cameron Lard came out of nowhere to grab the offensive rebound and keep the possession alive for Iowa State. The Cyclones led 66-62 at that point.
Iowa State worked its offense and freshman guard Lindell Wigginton pulled up for a 3-pointer of his own with 1:36 left in the game. Wigginton drilled it and extended Iowa State’s lead to 69-62.
That shot – which wouldn’t have been possible without Lard’s effort – effectively put the game out of reach for Baylor (11-6, 1-4 Big 12), and Iowa State won 75-65. The Cyclones (10-6, 1-4) were bolstered by strong performances from Wigginton and Lard, which led to Iowa State’s first conference win of the season.
Wigginton finished the game with 30 points on 8-for-17 shooting from the floor and 5-of-10 shooting from 3-point range. Wigginton closed off the first half hitting three straight 3-pointers, giving Iowa State a 34-27 lead at halftime.
“I just felt good coming in,” Wigginton said. “I played well at Kansas (Tuesday), but we didn’t get the win, so I just felt good coming in after staying in the gym and getting my shots up and my shot’s been feeling good.”
Wigginton is just the fourth Iowa State freshman to score 30 points and it’s his seventh game scoring at least 20 points. While Wigginton’s offensive stats are eye-popping, his defense is what stood out to Iowa State Coach Steve Prohm.
“Everyone’s going to look at Lindell today and everybody is going to say what? 30 points and 5 of 10 from 3,” Prohm said. “He guarded (Manu) Lecomte. And I thought he really competed on the defensive end. Lecomte’s an all-league type of player. That’s what I’m proud of him for. He’s starting to understand you have to compete on both ends and that’s what’s going to take his game (to the next level).”
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Lecomte shot 2 of 12 from the field and 0 of 7 from 3-point range. Wigginton also added three steals.
“You get rewarded by your work and he’s been in the gym for the last week and a half getting extra shots and spending time in the gym, getting here early, watching tape, and that’s important,” Prohm said. “Now, he has to stay resilient because the scouting reports are going to start to ratchet up a little bit and take tendencies away but that’s why he has to continue to work and study.”
Lard was nearly as impressive as Wigginton.
Lard had 11 points, nine rebounds and five blocks. But beyond his stats, the energy he brought affected the way the whole team played.
“His presence in there (was huge),” point guard Nick Weiler-Babb said. “It felt like he had more than nine rebounds. He was tipping balls out, he was getting us extra possessions. I thought he fought down there with the bigs. He’s a little thinner than those guys over there, but he held his own down there and there’s not much you can say. The stats don’t show everything.”
Prohm believes there’s more to come from Lard.
“(This is the player we anticipated) but I think he’s still got a lot higher ceiling,” Prohm said. “I think he’s just tapping the surface – he’s going off of raw ability right now. He’s just scratching the surface of continuing to grow his body, continuing to work on his skill – his offensive game around the basket. As he continues to develop, he’s going to be a very good player.”
The difference between this game and Iowa State’s four Big 12 losses was execution late in the game.
In the previous conference games, Iowa State wasn’t doing what Prohm drew up late. That wasn’t the case on Saturday.
“We made great steps today,” Prohm said. “I thought there was a different vibe everywhere in the arena today. There was a different passion and different emotion – for whatever reason. But our guys stayed resilient. Make or miss, they executed what we were trying to do down the stretch.
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“Monkey off your back? Yeah, just because you have to get your first win to get your second win.”
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