AMES — So this is what all the hype about Lindell Wigginton, Cameron Lard and Terrence Lewis was all about.
The freshman trio combined for 47 points, 38 in the second half, to lead Iowa State to its fourth straight win, 70-45, Saturday night in non-conference men’s basketball played before a crowd of 13,647 at Hilton Coliseum.
Wigginton, Lard and Lewis all recorded career highs for points. Wigginton had 21, including 16 in the second half. Lard finished with 14, all but two scored in the second half. Lewis also had but two points at halftime and finished with 12.
Wigginton scored eight points, Lewis three and Lard was suspended the last time Iowa State (4-2) appeared at Hilton, a completely forgettable 18-point loss to Milwaukee nearly two weeks ago.
“Coach told me to be aggressive and my teammates told me to be aggressive,” said Wigginton, whose previous high was 17 points against Appalachian State. “The first couple of games I never felt like I really played my game. My coaches and teammates got on me to stay in the groove.”
Wigginton was groovy in the second half. He scored five points during a 7-0 run to start the half that gave the Cyclones a 36-25 lead. His 3-pointer with 12:36 left in the game capped a 14-4 run that gave the Cyclones a 50-34 lead. Western Illinois (4-1) never got closer than 13 points the rest of the way.
Iowa State outscored Western Illinois, 41-20, in the second half. After shooting 33 percent in the first half, the Cyclones found the range in the second, draining 17 of 32 shots.
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“We had open looks in the first half, but weren’t making shots that we usually make,” said Weiler-Babb, who scored only six points, but grabbed seven rebounds and dished out 10 assists. Weiler-Babb, who was switched to point guard after the Cyclones lost their first two games, has 41 assists in six games.
Iowa State took 19 3-point shots in the first half, but only 11 in the second.
“We missed a lot of good shots,” Iowa State Coach Steve Prohm said of the Cyclones’ 6 of 19 3-point shooting in the first half. “We could have been 12 of 19 and opened a 22-point lead. In the second half we did a good job of working it inside.”
That’s how the ball ended up in the hands of Lard, a 6-foot-9 post player.
“We moved the ball around and were getting easier shots,” Weiler-Babb said. “We got the ball inside to Cam.”
“(Lard) runs the floor really well,” Wigginton said. “He’s an energetic guy. He gets us going on the offensive and defensive end.”
Lewis sat out Iowa State’s last two games, wins over Tulsa and Boise State.
“He came out and had something to prove,” Weiler-Babb said. “He knocked ’em down and we know he has the ability to do that.”
The Cyclones went to Myrtle Beach, S.C., and swept their three games in the transplanted Puerto Rico Tip-Off, largely behind veterans Weiler-Babb and Donovan Jackson. Weiler-Babb was the tourney MVP and Jackson set a tourney record with 76 points.
Jackson scored all nine of his points Saturday in the first half, draining three 3-pointers. He hit back-to-back 3s to key an 11-0 run after Western Illinois had taken its only lead of the game at 14-12.
Iowa State led 29-25 at halftime. The Cyclones shot 33 percent (11 of 33) and Western Illinois 36 percent (10 of 28) in the frame.
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“Coach just came in and said we aren’t playing to our potential right now,” Weiler-Babb said of Prohm’s halftime locker room speech. “We weren’t playing with pace and just walking the ball downcourt at times. That’s not our game.”
“We really tried to emphasize throwing the ball inside,” Prohm said. “We’re not a perfect picture right now and we’re not going to be.”
Iowa State sophomore guard Jakolby Long sat out the game in street clothes after suffering a concussion Thursday in practice. His absence left Iowa State with nine active players. Long played in the Cyclones’ first five games and averaged 10 minutes and five points. He had a career-high 17 points against Tulsa in the Puerto Rice Tip-Off Nov. 17.
Iowa State’s next game is Dec. 4 at home against Northern Illinois. That starts a three games in six days stretch that includes a home game against Iowa on Dec. 7.