Cyclones tear through Kennesaw State, 91-51


Photo: Manfred Brugger/Iowa State Daily

Kennesaw State’s Artie Marine fouls on Iowa State’s Melvin Ejim during the Cyclones’ game against the Owls on Wednesday, Nov. 24. The Cyclones were up 48-29 at the half and won 91-51

Chris Cuellar

Iowa State didn’t need a buzzer beating shot, or even a ferocious effort to knock off visiting Kennesaw State 91-51 on Wednesday night.

The Cyclones (5-0) expected a test from the Owls (2-4) who had knocked off ACC squad Georgia Tech on Nov. 15, but a 19-point halftime lead and holding KSU to 25.8 percent second half shooting put the Cyclones in charge all night.

“It looked like they had the gameplan that they were going to really slow it down, which was a little bit surprising,” said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg. “When we watched the game against Georgia Tech, they came out flying down the floor. The fact that they came out holding it from the beginning of the game, it was very important that we built a lead so that we could play our style of ball. We wanted to control the tempo.”

Hoiberg’s squad had six players scoring in double-digits in front of the Thanksgiving Break crowd of an announced 11,237. Freshman Melvin Ejim finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds, giving the Brewster Academy product five straight games to start the season in double-digits. The only two other Cyclones to accomplish that feat in their rookie year were Adam Haluska and The Mayor himself.

“I just thought I’d come in and play my part and do what I had to do to help my team win,” Ejim said. “If this is helping the team win, then I’m going to keep doing it.”

It was a solid all-around game for the Cyclones, out-rebounding the Owls 43-29, ending the game plus-four in the turnover margin, and holding their opponent to just 34.5 percent shooting from the floor. Coming off of the high energy Creighton game, the low intensity atmosphere at Hilton Coliseum as most students were home for break could have been a trap. Instead the young team took control early, and stretched the lead out to 40 points at the end of the contest.

“I was very concerned, just because of how that game went down, and it was such an emotional build-up game for our guys,” Hoiberg said. “The way that game was played, there was so much intensity that the guys came out and played. I’ve been around this game a long time as a player, and for a little time as a coach now, but you see it all time when a team has a huge win like that, that you’re going to let down a little bit. I was proud of the way they came out.”

Moving from Division II to Division I just a year ago, the Owls second season has hit a snag since the Georgia Tech win, with KSU losing its last three games.

Kennesaw State had two players that had been averaging 18 points per game, and the defensive efforts of Jake Anderson and Scott Christopherson held down the average. Sophomore Markeith Cummings finished with his obligatory 18 points, but his back court partner Spencer Dixon only logged five points on the night.

“In the game of basketball, everybody’s going to get their chance to shine, and you can’ t shut a team down just throughout the game,” Anderson said. “At times they got it going, and at times we were able to knock them down. We just tried to keep that type of focus.”

Jamie Vanderbeken was a party to a scary moment in the first half, as the 6-foot-11 senior hurt his leg running into a KSU player in the paint. The redshirt senior limped into the locker room, but returned to strong applause and was put on the court within minutes.

“He’s doing OK, he’s limping a little bit, and he told me he feels really old. I said, ‘I do too big fella’,” the first year coach joked after the game. “We’ll get him a treatment tonight, a treatment again in the morning and just get him ready for Montana State.”

Nine of the 10 available Cyclone players got their name on the scoring sheet on the icy night before Thanksgiving, and all 10 saw playing time. The Cyclones will get one more small conference team in Montana State on Saturday before the schedule really heats up. Iowa State heads to Cedar Falls to take on rival Northern Iowa on Dec. 1, and hosts Pac 10 squad California on Dec. 4.

Saturday’s game at Hilton Coliseum hosting the Bobcats tips off at 1 p.m.