Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State men's basketball looks to continue hot streak

Cyclones search for fifth straight win Saturday against TCU

Iowa State Cyclones forward Cameron Lard (2) tips in a basket between guard Lindell Wigginton (5) and guard Nick Weiler-Babb (1) during the second half of their NCAA basketball game at Hilton Coliseum in Ames on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Iowa State Cyclones forward Cameron Lard (2) tips in a basket between guard Lindell Wigginton (5) and guard Nick Weiler-Babb (1) during the second half of their NCAA basketball game at Hilton Coliseum in Ames on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

AMES — The Iowa State men’s basketball team seems to have hit its stride.

The Cyclones have won six of their last seven games, three on the road and two against top-20 teams away from home.

It’s been well documented that Iowa State has had a lot of make-shift lineups throughout the season due to injury and suspensions. Maybe the most exciting part for Cyclone fans is that they have only lost one game all season with their top seven players all in the lineup, at then-No. 9 Kansas.

No. 16 Iowa State (18-5, 7-3) hosts TCU (16-6, 4-5) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Hilton Coliseum (ESPNU) with a chance to extend its winning streak to five.

Part of the spark for Iowa State over the last eight games has been guard Lindell Wigginton and forward Cam Lard figuring out their roles.

Wigginton has shot 45 percent from 3-point range during the Cyclones’ four-game winning streak and he’s also made the most 3-pointers of any Iowa State player during that run with nine. In a win at Oklahoma on Wednesday, Wigginton made four 3-pointers.

“I think he’s feeling comfortable,” Iowa State Coach Steve Prohm said. “Coming off the bench against Oklahoma he gave us an enormous lift. We couldn’t score, we were struggling to score, and he hits back-to-back 3s. I thought he played really, really well there.”

Wigginton was Iowa State’s lone bucket-getter when he was a freshman last season, but now as a sophomore, the scoring load has been eased by Marial Shayok and Talen Horton-Tucker. Not being the focal point of the offense was something Wigginton had to get used to but now that he has, things are clicking for him.

“Lindell is hitting his stride and he’s a big key for us down the stretch,” Prohm said.

Two of Iowa State’s three conference losses came when Lard sprained his ankle against Baylor. Against Kansas, Lard was saddled with foul trouble and only played six minutes.

When Lard is able to stay on the court, his impact is felt immediately.

During Iowa State’s run over its last seven games, Lard is shooting 68 percent from the field while also being the Cyclones’ best rim protector, blocking 10 shots in the seven-game stretch.

“He’s been great,” Prohm said. “We’ve had several different teams and it started with the suspensions and he kind of struggled coming back from that. He may have been thinking certain things were going to be a certain way.

“He had to come back and earn it. But he’s made some really, really good strides from Ole Miss to Oklahoma. He’s had some really good games of late. The games he has struggled have been foul-trouble related.

“We’re going to need him to finish these last eight regular season games out the right way.”

And it starts with TCU on Saturday.

“TCU, they cause their own set of problems,” Prohm said. “They had a big win at the buzzer the other night against Oklahoma State. It’s a lot of spread-ball-screen offense, Alex Robinson is terrific in ball-screen offense.

“You can’t get too high and you can’t get too low. One thing that will go a long way to winning a conference championship is winning home games.”

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