AMES — Iowa State men’s basketball started Friday night’s game against Missouri about as slow as a team could with point guard Lindell Wigginton out.
Iowa State was 4 for 15 from the field at the under-12 timeout in the first half. Iowa State eventually found its rhythm and put Missouri away, 76-59.
Wigginton is out an indefinite amount of time due to a strain in his left foot, Iowa State athletic trainer Vic Miller said before the game.
Miller said Wigginton’s progress will be checked by the week but his return has no timeline at this point. Wigginton arrived in Hilton Coliseum Friday with a hard cast on his foot.
With Wigginton’s injury, Iowa State (2-0) was down to eight scholarship players for the game against Missouri (1-1), half of whom were freshmen and one of the others is a sophomore that averaged just 11 minutes a game last season. Cam Lard and Zoran Talley were both out due to suspensions and Solomon Young was out after having surgery.
The eight that did suit up performed extremely well.
The freshmen played with confidence and three out of the four made a positive impact for the Cyclones.
Tyrese Haliburton had an impressive first half, scoring eight points, dishing out two assists, grabbing a rebound and swiping three steals. His statistical production slowed in the second half, finishing with eight points, three rebounds, two assists and four steals.
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The most impressive thing Haliburton did, though, was playing all 40 minutes of his first career start and not turning the ball over once. He was ready for the moment.
“When I first watched him play in the summer in AAU, he has something about him,” Iowa State Coach Steve Prohm said. “I just think he’s a good fit for this school and university. He reminds me a lot of the guys I was fortunate to coach my first couple of years here just with his personality, his character, his charisma and with what he’s about. He can handle himself in any situation. He has a chance to be a very good player, he just has to keep working.
“Tyrese just has that ‘it’ factor. It’s early. He’s going to have some good games and some bad games, but his upside is tremendous. It really starts with his character. His character is tremendous.”
While the situation isn’t ideal, Haliburton is thankful for the opportunity.
“I’m getting invaluable experience out there that a lot of freshmen don’t get,” Haliburton said. “(Nick) Weiler-Babb is teaching me on the court and Lindell is teaching me from the sideline.”
Talen Horton-Tucker showed off his physicality and range. He drilled two 3-pointers and he drew four fouls driving to the lane. He finished with 12 points and three rebounds.
Zion Griffin was the grittiest freshman, not afraid to mix it up inside. He had five points and four rebounds in the first half. But like Haliburton, his production waned in the second half.
While the freshmen impressed, Iowa State was still led by a trio of upperclassmen in Weiler-Babb, Marial Shayok and Michael Jacobson. Weiler-Babb had 16 points, six assists and two steals; Shayok had 20 points and four rebounds and Jacobson had 15 points and three rebounds while holding one of Missouri’s best players, Jeremiah Tilmon to just five points.
Prohm said those three provided a calming presence for the freshmen. But Weiler-Babb did admit it’s pretty much impossible to keep four freshmen calm during their first big game in Hilton Coliseum versus a Power-Five opponent.
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“When you have four freshmen on the court, you can’t tell them to be mellow,” Weiler-Babb said. “It’s their first big game in Hilton, you want them to be hyped. You don’t want them crazy hyped, but I think they did a great job of handling their emotions. They all came through big for us and were one of the main reasons why we won the game.”
Iowa State will be shorthanded for the foreseeable future, but if the Cyclones keep getting production like this, they may be able to weather the storm.
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