AMES — As Iowa State men’s basketball coach Steve Prohm sat down for Tuesday’s postgame press conference, he gave Solomon Young a pat on the back.
Young earned that pat.
He finished with a career-high 27 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field and 13-of-15 from the free throw line. He added nine rebounds, two assists and two blocks as the Cyclones held off Oklahoma State 89-82 at Hilton Coliseum.
“He played like Shaq tonight,” Iowa State point guard Tyrese Haliburton said.
The difference is, Shaquille O’Neal was a career 52.7-percent free-throw shooter.
“He looked like Steph Curry at the free throw line, too,” Haliburton said.
Young drew 10 fouls, a stat that impressed Prohm.
“I was 13 for 15 on free throws — I didn’t even know I shot that many,” Young said. “Then I had nine rebounds. Coach made it an emphasis for me to rebound out of my area and play physically.”
Young said his goal was to come off the bench and play with a lot of energy. It’s safe to say he did that.
But that’s what Prohm expects from his players. What he wants to see is players playing with confidence and Young did that against the Cowboys (9-9, 0-6).
With 7:37 left in the second half and Iowa State (9-9, 2-4) up 71-58, Young blocked a shot from Oklahoma State’s Jonathan Laurent. Young sprinted down to the other end and posted hard. When he got the ball, he had a deep drop step and tried to dunk on Laurent.
Laurent did the only thing he could and fouled Young. Young went to the line and made both free throws.
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“I thought he had great confidence,” Prohm said. “You should play hard. That should be a prerequisite. That one play where he tried to dunk the ball in the second half and got fouled, that’s when you could stamp him and say, ‘He’s playing with unbelievable confidence tonight.’ I thought we had a chance to go at them inside and we did that.”
Young’s post presence allowed Iowa State to get open shots on the perimeter.
Young was attracting so much attention that Haliburton and fellow guard Rasir Bolton were left open on a number of 3-point attempts, which they capitalized on.
Haliburton had 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc and Bolton scored 21 points, hitting 4 of 6 from deep.
“He sealed people and buried people in the post,” Haliburton said. “He established a post presence for us. He was hoopin’. He was definitely the difference for us today.”
Young was replaced by George Conditt in the starting lineup after Iowa State’s loss to Kansas on Jan. 8, in part because he wasn’t playing with the physicality Prohm wanted to see out of him.
Now that he’s proven he can be physical, Prohm is able to roll with whoever has the hot hand in the post.
“I thought he played with great physicality and great toughness,” Prohm said. “When you can make free throws, that helps a ton. I don’t think he played with that physicality in some of those prior games. That’s one of the reasons we switched our starting lineup.
“Whoever is playing well, needs to play — you saw that tonight.”
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