COLUMBIA, Mo. — When Iowa State agreed to a two-year basketball series against Missouri back in November 2016, the Tigers featured a much-maligned roster in the midst of an eight-win season.
Fast forward to Friday night’s game at Mizzou Arena and the Cyclones — featuring their own overhauled starting five — struggled against a quicker, lengthier Missouri side. In the latest thaw of the strain between the Big 12 Conference and Southeastern Conference, Missouri claimed the win, 74-59. Iowa State had won 19 consecutive season openers, with the last defeat coming in 1997.
“I’m glad we played this game right out of the gate,” Cyclones third-year head coach Steve Prohm said. “We needed to know where we are as a basketball team.”
Despite preseason All-American forward Michael Porter Jr. playing just two minutes of game action for Missouri after tweaking his left hip during warm-ups, Iowa State had no answer for the Tigers’ interior presence.
Missouri outscored the Cyclones 28-20 in the paint behind double-digit efforts from freshman Jeremiah Tilmon and junior Kevin Puryear.
“All the fireworks and whistles and bells and I haven’t even seen him play,” Prohm said of Porter Jr. “He’s got a bright future.”
Iowa State freshman guard Lindell Wigginton, the program’s second-highest rated recruit in the internet rankings era, suffered some early growing pains in his first collegiate action. The Nova Scotia, Canada, native committed a trio of turnovers in his first eight minutes on the court. On two occasions, he was denied at the rim.
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A second-half spark from Nick Weiler-Babb brought life into Iowa State’s road hopes, however. The redshirt junior poured in 14 points, all after the break.
“I saw that we were struggling offensively,” Weiler-Babb said. “I just had to change my mentality.”
Minus the leadership of Monte Morris (now in the NBA G League), the Cyclones could not find enough resolve or secondary scoring options.
Missouri extended its lead to as many as 22 points in the second half and cruised to the win, its first over a Big 12 opponent since Dec. 5, 2013.
Iowa State will return to the court for its home opener on Monday night against Milwaukee.
“It’s my job to make it easier for the guys,” Prohm said. “I’m the head coach. I’ve got to get these guys in better positions.”