By Ken Cross
The Iowa State Cyclones were supposedly rebuilding to the point where they would sink to the lower echelon of the deep Big 12 this season before making it’s way back. Coach Steve Prohm and his new Cyclones squad had obviously had no pretenses of such preseason chatter as they have won six in a row after an 0-2 start.
Prohm’s use of three guards in Lindell Wigginton, Nick Weiler-Babb, and Donovan Jackson has sparked this run as the three are becoming sensations in Hilton Coliseum as the pre-conference schedule is in it’s middle stages with the Big 12 opener against Kansas State in Hilton is just around the corner on Dec. 29.
Wigginton has become a sensation with his play in the open floor and the ability to get to the rim. Wigginton has scored 20 points in three consecutive games and can break the school record with four in a row on Sunday against Alcorn State. He also has 21 assists and has shot 47.5 percent from three in the first eight games.
Jackson leads the Cyclones in scoring at 16.4 points per game and like Wigginton comes at defenses with energy and speed. As the Cyclones lost over 700 triples with four senior starters graduating, Jackson has joined Wigginton in replacing that talented group from behind the arc. With 25 triples over the first eight games, he could threaten former Cyclone Dedric Willoughby’s school record of 102 in one season.
Weiler-Babb’s 57 assists against only 11 turnovers in the last six games signifies Iowa State’s efficiency in the six-game winning streak. He is on point with the Cyclones’ three-ball game and is on pace to break Monte Morris’s assist record if his distribution continues to ascend consistently.
— Cyclone Basketball (@CycloneMBB) December 8, 2017
Toppling the Hawkeyes
The trio scored 51 of the Cyclones’ 84 points as Iowa State passed Iowa, 84-78, in the Iowa Corn CyHawk Series on Thursday night. Wigginton paced the effort with 24 points while Weiler-Babb netted 15 and 10 boards.
“We don’t have our identity yet but we are starting to take steps,” It’s a growth process everyday with this team and at times we have three freshmen out there for several minutes and it is great for them to be involved in an environment like this.
Wigginton made two threes and then Jackson made one in a 9-2 Cyclones run that gave them separation with a 72-63 lead with 6:15 remaining.
“I have learned that when things are tough they respond,” explained Prohm, “If you have got character, ability, and toughness, you can do special things. We have only had eight guys healthy, so we have not had a complete practice with guys going five on five and up and down.”
Jackson was given the green light and empowered by Prohm even though he had struggled in shooting. He finished 4-of-13 from the field but had four big free throws down the stretch that allowed Iowa State to ice the win.
“Donovan was great,” said Prohm, whose 75 percent winning percentage ranks seventh among coaches with five years experience, “I just told him to keep shooting you are going to make some shots. Donovan and him made back to back threes and I wanted him to keep shooting and I wanted him to stay aggressive.”
Iowa State is coming together as the Cyclones will be a factor in Big 12 play. The pace, the chemistry and talent as well as some Hilton Magic once again makes them a tough out on any basketball court in the nation.