Relegated to a bench role in his junior season, forward Solomon Young was losing minutes in a guard heavy lineup.
That changed on Tuesday.
Solomon Young with quite a game to this point. Efficiency, defense and a strong presence down low for the #Cyclones— Zane Douglas (@zdouglas27) January 22, 2020
Young was featured in the offense for the Cyclones off the bench in a key 89-82 win against conference foe Oklahoma State. He was able to gain good position all night and put up solid numbers for a Cyclone team that was looking to get more touches to their post players.
"The difference to the game, the key to the game was Solomon Young," said Cowboys' coach Mike Boynton.
In the first half is where Young really impacted the result. With many of his teammates — aside from Rasir Bolton and Tyrese Haliburton — struggling to score, Young put on a mini clinic down low.
The redshirt junior scored 10 points on 4-5 shooting and 2-2 from the line while also securing five rebounds and an assist with 14 minutes off the bench. Young also made his presence known on the defensive end and was instrumental in holding Oklahoma State away from the basket.
While Bolton and Haliburton were busy going nuclear from three, Young kept churning as a force down low. Young would add 17 points in the second half and also set a new career high in points with 27 while setting his season pace for minutes as well with 30.
"I think I was just being really aggressive," Young said. "I was trying to post for position, run the floor, I was trying to be the best defender out there."
Solomon Young has a career-high 20 points tonight.— Matt Belinson (@BelinsonMatt) January 22, 2020
Midway through the half, Young caught a pass from Haliburton going inside and used it to slam home a ferocious dunk, sending Hilton Coliseum into a frenzy and extending an already large lead for the Cyclones.
To go with his 7-8 from the floor, Young was 13-15 from the free-throw line. Young tacked onto his impressive night with nine rebounds, two blocks and two assists.
"He looked like Steph Curry at the free throw line," Haliburton said.
Young — coupled with Haliburton and Bolton — led the team to a win that it desperately needed after a demoralizing stretch of poor offense and blowout losses.
Combination of Haliburton, Bolton and Young have combined for 60 of Iowa State's 75 points on 17-28 shooting, 10-15 from three and 16-17 from the free-throw line. #Cyclones— Zane Douglas (@zdouglas27) January 22, 2020
The win comes at a perfect time for Iowa State as it was at risk to keep falling as the schedule continues to get tougher. The offensive and defensive outburst that resulted in a near double-double from Young was the difference in the game for the Cyclones.
Coach Steve Prohm had been saying earlier in the week that the Cyclones needed someone who had a lot of confidence. Young showed that on Tuesday.
"I mean playing hard is just, that should be a prerequisite," Prohm said. "When somebody can say your team plays with extreme confidence and a great swagger, that's when you're really doing something special I think.
"I think the one play where he tried to dunk that one in the second half [...] then you can say [...] 'hey tonight he's playing with unbelievable confidence.'"
It wasn't just a big game for the Cyclones, but for Young as well who had lost his starting job to one of Iowa State's pleasant surprises this season in George Conditt.
Young played 30 of the 40 minutes while Conditt only played 10 as they subbed for each other whenever they needed a break.
For Young, the minutes and the play were confidence boosts that could give the Cyclones a secret weapon in the post down the stretch.
"My boy looked like Shaq today," Haliburton said. "High seals, really burying people, kind of establishing a post presence for us, you know he really helped us and then he was at the free-throw line hitting free throws too. He was hooping."