AMES – Iowa State guards Nick Weiler-Babb, Donovan Jackson and Lindell Wigginton are streaky. In any game, any or all of the trio could go for 20 points or for six points.
They’re the engine that make Iowa State men’s basketball run and they need to find more consistency. The Cyclones have dropped their first two Big 12 games, both at Hilton Coliseum.
Now, Iowa State (9-4, 0-2 Big 12) travels to Stillwater, Okla., to play Oklahoma State (10-4, 0-2) at 3 p.m. Saturday (ESPNU).
“Our three guards – if Nick, Donovan and Lindell are playing well, I think we’ll be tough to beat – home or road I think we’ll be a tough out,” Iowa STate Coach Steve Prohm said. “If two out of the three plays well, we’re giving ourselves a chance. If only one plays well, it’s going to be tough. That’s just the reality.”
It’s finding that consistency to play well night-in and night-out. Against Texas, Wigginton shot 2 of 14 and ended the night with just four points. The freshman didn’t get to the free throw line once.
He wasn’t taking bad shots, they just weren’t falling for him.
“He’s had a great season up to this point. The biggest challenge with him, just like with any freshman or good player is limiting peaks and valleys,” Prohm said. “That’s the challenge with this team is continuing to challenge them to grow.”
In Wigginton’s last three games his scoring output has been five points against Maryland Eastern Shore, 23 against Kansas State and four points Texas. Those are the peaks and valleys Prohm is talking about.
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“He’s a freshman, he let it get to his head,” Weiler-Babb said of Wigginton’s recent struggles. “But me, as well as other teammates, as well as coaches always tell him to stay confident no matter what – everybody has bad games. Stick through it and the next one is going in.”
Wigginton’s mindset is to stay in the gym and keep getting shots up.
“I’m a patient person,” Wigginton said. “I’m not okay with the [bad games], but if it happens it happens and you just have to take it one game at a time and try to get the next one.”
Jackson and Weiler-Babb have had their fair share of recent clunkers, too. Weiler-Babb hasn’t shot above 37 percent from the field since the Iowa game and Jackson had a two-point game against Kansas State.
If the shots aren’t falling, the guards need to find other ways to get involved, whether that’s distributing or giving more on the defensive end.
“You can’t live and die by your field goal percentage, you have to live and die by how we’re doing as a team,” Prohm said.
Weiler-Babb knows the importance of the three guards. And in the Big 12 this year, there are no “gimme games” where a team can take the other lightly and not give full effort. Even though Oklahoma State in winless in the Big 12, like Iowa State, it still took No. 7 West Virginia to the wire, losing 85-79 in the final minutes.
“We three guards are the leading scorers on the team,” Weiler-Babb said. “There can’t be days where we take it off, or get down on ourselves. ... You have to play 100 percent on the court and there’s no time to take off.”
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