AMES — Iowa State just returned from the Maui Invitational in Hawaii where the Cyclones went 2-1, and they were one game away from adding suspended players Cam Lard and Zoran Talley on Monday night at Hilton Coliseum.
The Cyclones could have coasted in their game against Omaha and tried to ride out the suspensions until their next game against North Dakota State next Monday. Instead, Iowa State controlled the game from start to finish, winning 82-55.
“I just feel like good teams don’t (coast),” ISU forward Michael Jacobson said. “We had to come out and be ready to go. It was a character game. I felt like we did a really good job on the defensive end and extended the lead in the second half. Great teams don’t (take games off).”
Because of the suspensions — and injuries to Lindell Wigginton and Solomon Young — coach Steve Prohm only had eight scholarship players at his disposal, allowing him to play freshmen like Zion Griffin and George Conditt.
“It’s given guys like Tyrese (Haliburton), George, Zion and Talen (Horton-Tucker) an opportunity to play through mistakes and an opportunity to grow,” Prohm said. “I think it’s good to let guys play through mistakes. I feel comfortable playing seven or eight guys, what makes you uncomfortable is when you only have eight in case you get foul trouble. The biggest thing it’s done is it’s going to make this team better later. I think a lot of these young guys have gotten some really good experience and fortunately we’ve been able to win a couple of games.”
Haliburton erupted in the first half, scoring 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Haliburton finished with 16 points without taking another shot in the second half, four rebounds, four assists, three steals and one block.
“I was just trying to share the ball and go out there and make the right play,” Haliburton said. “There were a couple of times I could’ve shot, but guys were open. I was just trying to make the right play at all times.”
Prohm appreciates that about his young guard.
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“It was great to see him step up and make shots tonight. We needed him to early,” Prohm said. “He just brings a lot of energy to our team. He has a charismatic personality that I think the fans like and that I know I like a lot.”
Overall, the Cyclones (6-1) had a balanced attack against Omaha (3-4) with five players scoring in double figures.
Virginia transfer Marial Shayok led the Cyclones in scoring with 18 points on 6-of-14 shooting.
Jacobson, a Nebraska transfer posted his third career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Horton-Tucker added 16 and Terence Lewis added 15.
Point guard Nick Weiler-Babb was absent from the scoring column. Arguably Iowa State’s best player in its current lineup only attempted one shot and Iowa State still won by 27.
“Nick’s been sick the last couple of days,” Prohm said. “He probably needs a couple of days to get better. I think Nick has a really good feel to where he knows when we need a burst. The biggest thing at the end of the day is he had zero turnovers.”
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