Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State guard Lindell Wigginton stepping up on defense

Freshman draws tough matchup Wednesday in TCU's Jaylen Fisher

Iowa State Cyclones guard Lindell Wigginton defends Texas Longhorns guard Jacob Young during a Jan. 1, 2018 game at Hilton Coliseum in Ames. (Reese Strickland/USA TODAY Sports)
Iowa State Cyclones guard Lindell Wigginton defends Texas Longhorns guard Jacob Young during a Jan. 1, 2018 game at Hilton Coliseum in Ames. (Reese Strickland/USA TODAY Sports)

AMES – Iowa State freshman guard Lindell Wigginton has been impressive on the offensive end in his young career.

He’s the fourth freshman in Iowa State history to score 30 or more points and he’s one 20-point game away from tying the freshman record of 20-point games in a season. The record currently stands at eight, held by Marcus Fizer and Curtis Stinson. Wigginton has 14 regular-season games to match or break the record.

But it was known that he was a prolific offensive threat. The biggest area Wigginton has grown at Iowa State is on the defensive end.

On Wednesday in Fort Worth, Texas, as Iowa State (10-6, 1-4 Big 12) travels to TCU (13-4, 1-4 Big 12), Wigginton will be matched up against TCU guard Jaylen Fisher. Fisher is averaging 12.3 points and 5.7 assists.

“He plays great defense himself so that’s definitely going to be a good battle,” Wigginton said. “I obviously want to win every battle I go up against.”

Wigginton said it’s been a change in mindset for him on the defensive end. It started two weeks ago when Prohm challenged him to defend the best guard on the court every night.

Like many standout high school players, Wigginton was a good defender, he just didn’t always want to defend.

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Iowa State Coach Steve Prohm changed that mindset in him and Wigginton bought in to being a good defender.

“(Prohm) has been challenging me a lot,” Wigginton said. “He feels like I can be an elite defender. That’s why, recently, I’ve been guarding the best player on the other team and I make it a point to myself that I want to guard the best player. I tell him I want to guard the best player.”

It’s easy for a guy with Wigginton’s athleticism to be a good on-ball defender. He’s able to keep up using his lateral quickness and speed to stay in front of his man. But the transition from good to great defender starts off the ball and getting the rotations and help defenses right.

“It’s definitely a process guarding off the ball,” Wigginton said. “You have to see where your man is at but you also have to see where the ball is at. I think that’s been the biggest key in my defending process. I feel like I’m a good on-ball defender, but I still have to work on all aspects of defense.”

That’s a team concept that will be key against TCU. All five Horned Frogs starters average double figures, so Iowa State can’t help off one guy too much.

“They want the ball moving, so we have to do a great job of getting back and you have to guard everybody,” Prohm said. “Collectively, the five guys need to do a great job as a team to defend them. They are very, very efficient, they can make 3s – you look and it’s 41 percent from 3-point line and 50 percent from the field. The defensive end is what’s going to get us the win down there. You’re not going to go down there and just outscore them.”

Wigginton has learned that playing strong defense leads to easy points in transition. Against Baylor in his last game, he guarded Manu Lacomte and held him to 2-of-12 shooting and got three steals as well. That defensive effort led to transition points and easy buckets.

It becomes cyclical. Good defense leads to easy points on offense, which gives a player more energy on defense.

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That defensive effort, not just from Wigginton, but the whole Iowa State team will be key against TCU.

“Forget their conference record,” Prohm said. “They played No. 6 Oklahoma twice, No. 10 Kansas once, on the road at Texas and on the road at Baylor. I don’t know what your record is supposed to be once you play those five games. You have to be consistent with your ball pressure, your ball-screen defense, your gap-help and make sure we contest and box every single trip. You have to make tough plays down there. We have to be able to play off of our defense.”

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