Chris Babb rolled his hand in front of his mouth as he retreated down court following a 3-pointer and Iowa State rolled to a much-needed victory.
Babb's 3-pointer and subsequent gesture — which has become a signature in recent games — were the final parts of a 12-0 run for the Cyclones (17-8, 7-5 Big 12) in the last 4:30 of the first half against TCU on Saturday.
That run sent Iowa State into halftime with a 15-point lead, a margin that only grew from there. The Cyclones beat the Horned Frogs (10-15, 1-11) handily 87-53 to get back on track following 2 consecutive Big 12 losses.
"I really liked how we established tempo early in that game," said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg. "Down there we allowed them to control early in the game and it kind of became a slugfest."
Iowa State scored 63 points when they beat TCU in Fort Worth, Texas, last month as one of just three games in which they hadn't reached 70 points. The team had no trouble on the offensive end the second time around.
ISU forward Georges Niang led the Cyclones with efficient play. The freshman scored 19 points in just 23 minutes of action and was a spark for Iowa State when on the court.
"They made a little run and I put [Niang] back in there with two fouls with just under five [minutes] to go," Hoiberg said of the first half. "We're a better team, I think, when Georges is on the court."
Niang promptly hit a 3-pointer after checking into the game to start the team's 12-0 run at the end of the first half. He also scored seven consecutive points for the Cyclones during another run in the second half.
When Niang was on the court Saturday, he scored and Iowa State clicked on all cylinders.
"When we spaced the floor we got back to doing what we do, and we're a really hard team to guard," Niang said.
Hilton Coliseum was a pleasant scene for the Cyclones after recent road woes. The home victory extended the team's winning streak at Hilton to 21 games and more importantly kept it on pace with the other teams in the upper half of the Big 12.
The top six teams in the conference are now separated by just two games, and the win precedes another road trip for Iowa State.
"It was key," said guard Korie Lucious of the win. "We just lost two big games on the road. We knew we had to come in and get this game before going back on the road."
As for Babb's new gesture, the team doesn't talk about it much.
"When he makes a 3-point shot, he does the little twirly-twirl," said guard Tyrus McGee.
So what does it mean?
"Eat or get ate," Babb said after the win.