Cyclones Have Moved Past 'Worst Game' Vs. Texas Tech

By Rob Gray, Reporter

Iowa State's Melvin Ejim is defended by Texas Tech's Jordan Tolbert (32) during their NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, in Lubbock, Texas. (AP Photo/The Avalanche-Journal, Stephen Spillman) ALL LOCAL TV OUT

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By Grant Burkhardt

AMES — Statistics told the grim tale of Iowa State’s early-Big 12 season loss at Texas Tech.

The Cyclones snared a season-low three offensive rebounds.

They eked out an also season-low 51 points.

They only made six 3-pointers in 23 tries.

“I think it was our worst game,” ISU guard Tyrus McGee said.

Ancient history?

“That game seemed like two years ago,” said Cyclone coach Fred Hoiberg, whose team (18-8, 8-5) faces the winless-since-then Red Raiders (9-15, 2-11) again in Saturday’s 12:45 rematch at Hilton Coliseum. “We’ve moved past that.”

ISU — the nation’s fifth highest-scoring team at 79.3 points per game — has totaled 70 or more points in eight games since the loss in Lubbock.

The Cyclones lead the country in 3-pointers per game at 9.6 and have hit at least 11 from beyond the arc in five straight.

“I don’t think anybody hesitates,” said McGee, who paces the Big 12 in 3-pointers per game (2.6) and long-range accuracy (45 percent).

Not even Big 12 leading rebounder Melvin Ejim?

“Not even Melvin,” McGee said.

Recruiting shooters is a no-brainer for Hoiberg’s up-and-down, transition-fueled system.

Six Cyclones have sank at least 18 3-pointers this season.

Five, including the versatile Ejim, are shooting 36 percent or better from downtown.

“The biggest thing I try to instill if these guys is confidence,” Hoiberg said. “If they have an open look I encourage them to take the shot. That being said, if it’s not your night or you come down and take rushed, contested ones, that’s not what we want.”

That’s what happened in Lubbock, where ISU’s offense became as stagnant as Hoiberg’s seen all season.

Why?

“They switched a lot of the ball screens,” Hoiberg said. “I thought we got impatient. We stopped moving the ball. Teams have done that since and we’ve handled it much better.”

The Cyclones struggled from the outside just once in the past eight games — in the first of two wins over Baylor.

Wednesday, ISU rebounded to go 11 of 28 from 3-point range against the Bears, with point guard Korie Lucious leading the way with four.

The hot-shooting night ended a four-game road skid and kept the Cyclones tied for fourth in the standings with Oklahoma — two games off the lead.

“All the guys were doing stuff different, like trying to do different things as rituals just to see if something else would work so we could get a road win,” forward Georges Niang said. “It worked. It feels good to get back on track.”

The Cyclones have glided smoothly at home and hope to extend their 21-game win streak at Hilton.

Only four teams are currently riding home winning streaks equal to or greater than that.

“I don’t want to say we feel invincible at home, because anybody can get beat,” guard Chris Babb said. “But we definitely feel that extra sense of confidence.”

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