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MANHATTAN, Kan. — Steve Prohm grinned as he looked at Solomon Young.
The second-year Iowa State men’s basketball coach made the commitment to start the freshman forward for the rest of the season, starting last Saturday.
Based on what Young did on the road at Kansas State, Prohm joked that he was kicking himself for not moving him into the starting lineup sooner.
His presence loomed larger than any other in the Cyclones’ 87-79 win over the Wildcats Wednesday night before 11,387 at Bramlage Coliseum.
“I’m proud of this guy,” Prohm said after Young’s 18 points and 12 rebounds. “He probably should be mad at me. I wasn’t playing him earlier in the year but hopefully he’s over it.”
Young’s a soft-spoken, California kid. He wasn’t too riled up about it.
“I ain’t mad at him,” Young said with a smile. “I knew my time would come. When it came, I was ready.”
What Young gave Iowa State (16-9, 8-5) was something it missed in most of the first 24 games this season: a constant threat around the basket. The 6-foot-8, 240-pounder positioned himself time and again on the weak side for put backs or tap outs.
“Just his force on the court, man,” said guard Naz Mitrou-Long, who finished with 16 points on four 3s. “It really felt like that presence we’ve been missing. He was dominant defensively, dominant offensively, huge late buckets, tip-ins. He didn’t look like a freshman today.”
His eight offensive boards were more than the Cyclones had as a team in some games this month. Young added an assist and two blocks in a career-high 33 minutes while all five ISU starters scored in double figures.
“All of (the rebounds) were big,” said point guard Monte Morris, who had 15 points, five assists and one turnover. “He got a rim run. I think that was our first one this year.
“A couple of tip-ins around the basket. Made some big blocks. He altered shots at the rim, too. Everything he did tonight, and has been doing and has shown, I’m just happy for him.”
Iowa State shot 60.7 percent in the first half, held Kansas State (16-0, 5-8) to 34.3 percent and built a 49-30 lead with just more than 16 minutes remaining.
Then the Wildcats made their move.
Kansas State used a 12-0 run to cut the ISU lead to seven, but the stretch was halted when Young cashed in a layup on one of his offensive boards. K-State guard Barry Brown, who had a team-high 21 points, made it a six-point game after a layup. but Iowa State went 22-for-26 from the free throw line to help put the game on ice.
“The way they got back in it though, if you go back and watch the tape, I bet a lot were live ball turnovers that we just gave them easy layups,” Prohm said. “That’s what killed us. And then we had bad offense and that was the combination, but our guys responded.”
Iowa State snagged back-to-back wins at Kansas State for the first time since 2000-01 and got its fourth road win in Big 12 play. It pushed the Cyclones into a tie with West Virginia for third in league standings with five games remaining.
“We’re really locked in right now and our emphasis is really paying attention to detail,” Mitrou-Long said. “We’ve been playing a great group of team basketball. I don’t really know why we’re playing so well on the road, but I’ll take it.”
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