AMES, Iowa — The next time Iowa State plays at home it’ll be against Kansas — the favorite to win yet another Big 12 title.
The Cyclones showed on Friday night that they might be healthy enough to hang with the top-ranked Jayhawks by then.
Marial Shayok scored 23 points in just 22 minutes, Lindell Wigginton had 15 points after missing the previous 10 games with a strained foot and Iowa State rolled past Eastern Illinois 101-53.
Michael Jacobson added 15 points the Cyclones (10-2). They returned both Wigginton and forward Solomon Young (strained groin) and played as a fully healthy team for the first time in their final tuneup before league play.
“I felt like I played hard. Obviously I’ve still got to get my conditioning back,” said Wigginton, a preseason All-Big 12 pick, who was 5 of 12 shooting in 18 minutes. “I think it felt normal.”
This one was essentially a scrimmage for Iowa State, as coach Steve Prohm tinkered with his lineup in an effort to see what combinations might work in conference play.
It certainly didn’t matter who was on the floor for the Cyclones. They pushed a 20-point halftime lead to 65-33 after Talen Horton-Tucker’s block set up Shayok for a corner 3-pointer and a 65-33 lead.
Iowa State rolled off a 19-0 run, its best of the season, to help push its lead to 40 points early in the second half.
Young finished with three points and four boards in 10 minutes.
Young “is a force down low,” Shayok said.
Shareef Smith scored 15 for Eastern Illinois (6-6).
THE BIG PICTURE
Eastern Illinois: The Panthers have a chance to compete for the Ohio Valley title this winter — if they improve their 3-point shooting defense. Whether that’s something a team can truly control is a subject of debate, but EIU is one of the worst teams in America at it. Iowa State shot 40.7 percent beyond the arc.
Iowa State: Young had been out all season, and Wigginton hadn’t suited up since hurting his foot late in the opener. The plan was to get each of them into a game situation — without exacerbating those injuries — ahead of Big 12 play. Wigginton showed his rust, committing three fouls in the first half alone. But Young and Wigginton teamed up in the second half, with Wigginton hooking up with Young for a rare 3.
Iowa State’s front court defense had left a bit to be desired for a stretch just before Young entered play. The 6-foot-8, 243-pound Young almost immediately reminded the Cyclones of how valuable his presence can be down low, forcing a turnover inside the circle that Iowa State turned into points on the other end. Young isn’t the flashiest guy in the paint, but his presence should be crucial for a team that won’t need to ask him to score very often. “We’re going to need his physicality as we get into conference,” Prohm said.
GETTING WIGGY WITH IT
Perhaps the thing Iowa State missed the most when Wigginton was out was his ability to get to the rim and either hit a layup or get fouled. The Cyclones lost at No. 23 Iowa in large part because of a pair of extended scoring droughts — something Wigginton might have halted single-handedly. “He’s a big piece of our team,” Prohm said of Wigginton. “He’s going to be fine.” Wigginton also had four rebounds, three assists and just one turnover.
Freshman Tyrese Haliburton could lose his starting spot to Wigginton, but he won’t lose many minutes. Haliburton had eight rebounds, seven points and four assists. …Wigginton played 18 minutes in his first career game off the bench. …Iowa State had 28 assists on 39 baskets with just five turnovers. …Horton-Tucker had eight points, eight assists and three blocks.