Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State vs. Oklahoma isn't just Lindell Wigginton vs. Trae Young

Will take team effort to slow down one of nation's top players

Oklahoma freshman Trae Young is averaging 30 points and 9.3 points per game. (Kelly Ross/USA TODAY Sports Images)
Oklahoma freshman Trae Young is averaging 30 points and 9.3 points per game. (Kelly Ross/USA TODAY Sports Images)

AMES — Iowa State guard Lindell Wigginton and Oklahoma guard Trae Young are two of the best freshman guards in the Big 12. Young might be the best guard in college basketball, averaging 30 points and 9.3 assists.

They’ll likely be guarding each other during Saturday’s game in Hilton Coliseum as Iowa State (12-11, 3-8 Big 12) hosts No. 18 Oklahoma (16-7, 5-5), but it won’t be up to Wigginton to slow down Young. It’ll be a team effort.

“It needs to be Oklahoma versus Iowa State,” Prohm said. “We can’t get caught up (in Wigginton versus Young). They’re too good offensively for us to say, ‘I’m going to match you.’ Or another guy thinking, ‘This is my chance.’ We can’t play like that. If we do that offensively, and we’re missing shots, their transition offense is elite and we’ll be in trouble.

“The message over the next 24 hours is, ‘This is Oklahoma versus Iowa State.’ That’s how it has to be for us and we can’t get into a side-show.”

Wigginton is buying into Prohm’s message.

“It’s not a one-on-one game, it’s a team game,” Wigginton said. “I’m worried about getting my teammates involved, and whatever else I bring to the table. I know what I can do on the offensive end.”

One of the most difficult aspects of guarding Young is his ability to get his shot off with almost no space. Prohm said when he makes those difficult shots — because he will — Iowa State has to stay engaged and can’t break down mentally.

The Cyclones can’t take any defensive possessions off and staying fundamentally sound is key to slowing Young down. Wigginton will be the primary defender on Young. He knows he has to stay in front of him when he drives and the rest of the team has to plug the gaps to try to force a turnover, which is the one weak parts of Young’s game. He averages 5.3 tunovers per game.

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“There’s a million ways you can try and (slow him down),” Prohm said. “I don’t think you want to be reckless in your approach to where you’re just running and jumping him all over the floor. He’s too good for that.

“You have to be fundamentally sound in your half-court defense — making sure you’re shifting the right way, making sure you’re rotating the right way, making sure your ball-screen defense is guarding correctly. When he’s doing that because he has you in scramble mode or rotations, that’s when he goes from special to elite.”

Even though it is Iowa State vs. Oklahoma, Wigginton can’t help but use this game as a measuring stick. He knows he won’t be able to match him basket for basket, but it’ll let him know how he compares to a future NBA draft lottery pick.

“He’s playing like he’s the best guard,” Wigginton said. “It’s definitely a measuring stick for me to see where I’m at. In my heart, I know I’m one of the best guards in the country, too.”

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