AMES, Iowa (AP) — The thinking when Iowa State suspended sophomore forward Cam Lard until December was that the Cyclones would need to find a way to survive until they got their uber-talented big man back.
Well, December is here — and the Cyclones have improved so quickly that Lard might find minutes hard to come by.
Marial Shayok scored 20 points, Michael Jacobson had 15 with 10 rebounds and Iowa State rolled past North Dakota State 81-59 for its fourth straight win.
Nick Weiler-Babb scored 11 points with eight rebounds for the Cyclones (7-1), who shot 50 percent from the floor.
Lard played just 10 minutes, scoring two points with two blocks, with Jacobson seizing a starting job in the frontcourt behind a brilliant start. Jacobson has posted back-to-back double-doubles, and he's scored at least 10 points in all eight games.
"I'm not planning on tinkering too much. I like the way we're playing," Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said. "On both ends of the floor."
Iowa State wasn't pushed in this one.
The Cyclones cruised to a 16-point halftime lead and then opened the second half with a 10-2 run to jump ahead 53-29. Back-to-back buckets by Shayok made it a 67-37 game with just over 12 minutes to go.
Lard and Zoran Talley each returned from seven-game suspensions against the Bison.
Talley — wearing a black mask to protect a broken nose — had four points and two assists, and the pair hooked up on an alley-oop dunk with about 11 minutes left, giving Lard his first points of 2018-19 in emphatic fashion.
"I've got to get in game shape. But besides that, I'm just ready to play," Talley said.
Rocky Kreuser had 13 points to lead the Bison (2-7), who made the score respectable with a late 19-2 run as Prohm experimented with his lineup.
Prohm also said that star Lindell Wigginton and forward Solomon Young will be out at least another week or so but that they could be back against Drake on Dec. 15.
THE BIG PICTURE
North Dakota State: After playing at No. 1 Gonzaga (and losing 102-60), against Drake in Minneapolis and in Ames, the Bison could use a home game. They'll get one on Saturday.
Iowa State: Lard made his first appearance at the 10:46 mark of the first half and promptly blocked a shot, a specialty of his. But Lard played just four minutes in the first half, and when he went back in the game it was essentially over. Prohm might have a challenge on his hands in keeping Lard focused and motivated if he can only find 10 minutes a game for a player many expected to compete for All-Big 12 honors.
Talen Horton-Tucker finished with 12 points, but he was just 5 of 16 from the field. ...Fellow freshman Tyrese Haliburton had nine points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals. He also turned it over just once. ...The Bison and Cyclones each finished with 37 rebounds. ...Iowa State forced 16 turnovers, and George Conditt blocked five shots.
HE SAID IT
"We all knew what we had to do in order for this program to be successful, so we all bought in to that," Lard said. "With me and Zoran missing those games, they knew that they had to step up and do what they had to do, and that's what they did. They're just trying to get that feel for playing with me and Zoran in that rotation," Lard said.
North Dakota State hosts Eastern Washington on Saturday.
Iowa State plays at No. 18 Iowa on Thursday. The Hawkeyes got blown out by No. 10 Michigan State 90-68 on Monday — and star freshman Joe Wieskamp hurt his ankle in the loss. "Go out there, get a Big Ten win, come back home (and) make it a Cyclones state," Talley said.