The reserves got what could be their most minutes of the year, as the ISU men’s basketball ran away from Alabama A&M in the second half, scoring 57 points and winning, 98-40. That is the largest margin of victory in the Hoiberg era, the sixth-largest margin of victory in school history.
Hoiberg saw improvement from senior point guard Korie Lucious, who finished the game with 10 points, five assists, two steals and two rebounds. He did, however have five turnovers.
“I could see it in his face, he was much more comfortable tonight,” Hoiberg said of Lucious. “He came over and was foaming at the mouth a little bit that first game and was panting. Korie’s going to be fine.”
Tyrus McGee paced the Cyclones (2-0) with 18 points, hitting six of his nine shots, four of them 3-pointers. Iowa State had four other players along with Lucious in double-figures scoring with Georges Niang scoring 17, Melvin Ejim with 16, Will Clyburn with 15.
Iowa State continued its rebounding success after struggling against Minnesota State in the exhibition opener. In the past two games the Cyclones have have had a positive rebounding margin of 49.
Niang had an easy answer when he was asked why they’ve rebounded so well through the first two games.
“Definitely from practices,” Niang said. “We’ve focused a lot more on rebounding especially after that first Minnesota State game, we struggled on the boards. Rebounding is a mentality and coach has really stressed that, the more physical guy is going to win.”
Niang had 32 points and 17 rebounds in his first two games, showing Iowa State he doesn’t play much like a freshman.
“No he doesn’t [play like a freshman]” Hoiberg said. “He’s a throwback type player. He’s got great footwork. He’s a great finisher in there.”
Hoiberg went on to say that Iowa State’s assistant coach Cornell Mann calls Niang “crafty.”
Contributions were seen from other freshmen besides Niang. Naz Long continued his no-look passing ways, assisting Niang on a fast break with a no-look pass.
Long finished with seven points and seven rebounds, while also only accounting for one turnover. Nkereuwen Okoro scored four points as well off the bench.
Even walk-on Tyler Ellerman scored his first points as a Cyclone, hitting a turnaround shot that led to Hoiberg saying postgame the crowd was louder than when Babb hit a 3-pointer to beat Kansas last year.
“It was great,” Hoiberg said. “They wanted to see [Ellerman] get a basket. That’s the great thing about this team. They want to see their teammates do well. All those guys are working as hard as anybody in practice and to let them go out and get one is great.”