Cyclones knock off winless SE Missouri State


Forward Melvin Ejim draws a controversial technical foul on an early drive in the first half for hanging on the rim. Southeast Missouri State missed both free throws.

Chris Cuellar

It may not have been the most inspired night of basketball Hilton Coliseum has ever had, but Iowa State stepped its game up in the second half on its way to a 85-58 win over Southeast Missouri State.

Monday night games are rare enough, add to that the fact the Redhawks (0-9) are one of nine teams nationally still without a victory, and the rival Iowa Hawkeyes await Friday — and the team was primed for a slow start.

“You have two very tough defeats and you see a team coming in and they’re winless, how do you find the energy to get up for that?” said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg.

“You have to find it within sometimes. They went out from the opening tip and really competed.”

While the Cyclones did open up a 20-point lead before halftime, the crowd noise and game intensity were lacking. Attendance was listed at a generous 12,502 for the evening and the evident gaps in seats left the crowd pedestrian most of the evening.

“We knew it was going to be a little bit lighter tonight,” Hoiberg said. “The Cal game was phenomenal, that brought back memories of the old Hilton Magic. It was such a great atmosphere. You worry about guys coming out and having a little bit of a letdown, just because of how emotional these last two games have been. And we’re so short, we’ve played three games in six days.”

Southeast Missouri State struggled as it has throughout the season, committing untimely fouls and turnovers and shooting just 32 percent from the floor on the night. The Redhawks turned the ball over 20 times and were out-rebounded by seven. All 10 active Cyclone players were able to see action in the rout.

“The energy was great, because we told ourselves that we’re not going to have Cyclone Alley and a lot of fans here at the game, so we said we had to create our own energy,” said ISU guard Diante Garrett.

Garrett led all scorers with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting on the night, despite playing just 28 minutes. The team’s leader wasn’t alone though, with four Cyclones totaling double-digits in the scoring column. Hoiberg’s club shot 52.5 percent from the floor, but made just five 3-pointers, four below their season average. The Redhawks were led by Anthony Allison and short-termed Cyclone recruit Marcus Brister, who finished with 11 points apiece on the freezing night in Ames.

“They’ve had stretches this year of playing very good basketball, so we had to come out and approach this like every game we’ve played, coming out and giving 100 percent effort,” Hoiberg said.

The Hawkeyes are next on the schedule, but after taking a road trip to visit coach Fran McCaffery’s team, Iowa State takes on three schools with a combined 5-18 record, so the likelihood of having more sluggish games with low crowd noise is high. The team won’t treat Chicago State like Kansas, but wants to have better focus for all 40 minutes, no matter the opponent.

“The big thing we told them was not to take this team lightly,” Iowa State’s first-year coach said. “They’re winless, but they’ve been in most of the games they’ve played. They played Arkansas to 10 points. We did a good job hanging around and then extended the lead in the second media timeout, and by halftime the game was pretty much out of reach.”

Iowa State’s success came through guard play on Monday night. While Hoiberg knew before the year started the contribution of his front line wouldn’t be the strength of the team, the vertically inclined players for Iowa State struggled even though they had a size advantage on the Redhawks. Players above 6 feet 6 inches tall — Jamie Vanderbeken, Calvin Godfrey, Eric McKnight and Jordan Railey — finished a combined 5-of-17 from the floor, and grabbed just eight total rebounds. Godfrey made his consistent hustle plays, but freshman Melvin Ejim’s work in the post kept things successful

“I guess in the past few games I’ve been kind of tentative or passive, and they’re just telling me to keep being aggressive,” Ejim said, after scoring 18 points and collecting 10 rebounds. “I saw if I had an opportunity, I just took it and made a play.”

The revamped Cyclone roster gets its taste of the new-look Iowa Hawkeyes on Friday, and tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. in Iowa City.