AMES — Iowa State showed what it looked like when it’s at full strength Friday night at Hilton Coliseum.
And what the Cyclones look like at full strength is impressive.
Iowa State beat Eastern Illinois 101-53 as guard Lindell Wigginton and forward Solomon Young returned to the Cyclones (10-2) lineup.
“My biggest focus was finishing the right way,” Iowa State Coach Steve Prohm said. “We had good moments in the first half. Then, in the second half, we picked it up and expanded the lead. We got Solomon some extended minutes and gave Lindell and opportunity to be out there. It was a good finish to the semester.”
Wigginton finished with 15 points, four rebounds and three assists, returning from a foot injury he suffered in the first game of the season.
Wigginton showcased his uncanny ability to get to the paint whenever he wanted, shooting 5-of-7 from inside the arc and 5-of-7 from the free-throw line. The only offensive area in which Wigginton struggled was from the 3-point line. He went 0-for-5 from beyond the arc — an area he excelled in last season, shooting over 40 percent from 3-point range.
While he didn’t shoot it well from distance, Wigginton didn’t feel like there was much of an adjustment getting back in the swing of things.
“I think it felt normal,” the sophomore said after the game. “I just have to stay in the gym and try to get my rhythm on my shot back.”
Wigginton is a bona fide scorer. It’s what he was wired to do. But at 6-foot-2, he has to be able to play the point guard position, which is something he did well against Eastern Illinois (6-6). When he’d drive and draw defenders, he’d smartly kick it out to the open man, something he didn’t always do last season.
“Lindell played hard and got a lot of guys open shots — even if they didn’t make them, he made the right play,” Iowa State senior Marial Shayok said. “It was good to have him back.”
As a team, Iowa State assisted on 28 of 39 made baskets and made only five turnovers.
“That’s the best stat,” Prohm said. “I think this team has grown to where they’re moving the basketball. We have to cut, and we have to move after a pass. We don’t even have to run plays. You have to cut, you have to move, and you have to make the extra pass, you have to get a paint touch. I thought they did that. I thought the guys were selfless.
“This was a game where you could go get your (numbers) if they wanted, but they didn’t. Marial had 23 points on 13 shots. The great thing about Marial’s stat line is he had three assists and one turnover. It was good to get a lot of guys in there and we were efficient offensively.”
Freshman Talen Horton-Tucker led Iowa State with eight assists and only one turnover. He also had eight points and five rebounds.
Every Iowa State player that played more than five minutes scored at least one basket.
This was Iowa State’s final game before break and before the Cyclones open Big 12 play at Oklahoma State on Jan. 2.
It’ll give Wigginton and Young time to get their legs back under them and it’s a welcome break for the guys who have been playing.
“I’ll still be working out (over the break),” Wigginton said. “I don’t have time for rest. The time I was out, that was my rest. I have to get home, get in the gym and spend time with my family. I’ll be in the gym because I have to get my rhythm back and get my conditioning better.”
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