Freshmen lead Cyclones in win over Oklahoma

Iowa State freshman Lindell Wigginton takes a shot over Oklahoma’s Trae Young during the second half on Feb. 10. Young, the nation’s leading scorer, praised Wigginton’s play after the game.

Aaron Marner

Coming into Iowa State’s game against No. 17 Oklahoma, the focus was on a pair of freshmen — Oklahoma guard Trae Young, the nation’s leader in points and assists, versus Iowa State guard Lindell Wigginton, who has been one of the best young guards in the nation this season.

On Saturday, two freshmen did indeed steal the show, but Trae Young wasn’t one of them.

Wigginton finished with 26 points, five rebounds and five assists while redshirt freshman forward Cameron Lard added 19 points and 17 boards to lead Iowa State to an 88-80 win over the Sooners.

“Cam, he brought a lot of energy,” Wigginton said. “I don’t know how many boards he had, but he had a lot of boards. He just brought a lot of energy and he got it done on the offensive end, too.”

Those two freshmen have been leading the way for Iowa State most of the season. Currently, they rank first (Wigginton) and third (Lard) on the team in points per game. They’re also first (Lard) and fourth (Wigginton) in rebounds.

And their importance has only grown lately in the absence of redshirt junior guard Nick Weiler-Babb.

“We went over with the guys shot selection,” said coach Steve Prohm. “These three guys need to shoot the ball — Cameron, Lindell, Donovan [Jackson] — and we just kinda re-established roles.”

That’s a lot of pressure to put on two freshmen. On any given night, they’re expected to be two of the three driving forces for the Cyclone offense. Today, they lived up to the challenge.

When Iowa State blew a near-20 point lead in the second half, it was that duo that answered the call.

With Iowa State leading by just three points and 1:05 left to play in the game, Wigginton stepped back and hit a critical 3-point dagger to effectively end Oklahoma’s chances at a comeback.

“It was a great feeling,” Wigginton said. “Every night, Hilton Magic comes out and supports us… it felt good.”

Wigginton’s 26 points gave him his ninth 20-point game of the season, which is a new Iowa State freshman record.

And on the other end of the floor? Those two freshmen were just as active as they were with the ball in their hands.

Trae Young still finished with 22 points and 11 assists, but it took him 21 field goal attempts and six turnovers to get those numbers.

Wigginton was a huge part of shutting down Young, as he blocked one of Young’s shot attempts and guarded Young on the perimeter for a good portion of the game.

Altogether, Wigginton and Lard combined for five steals and three blocks. Wigginton also took a crucial charging foul in the first half that helped Iowa State start an early lead.

When Iowa State’s two freshmen play like they did against Oklahoma, the Cyclones are a tough out for anyone.

“Lindell’s a good player,” Young said. “It’s not just him. Lard played great today, Jackson hit a big three and so did Lindell in that final minute and a half. But Lindell’s a good player.”

In the end, Iowa State’s two dynamic freshmen combined for 45 points, 22 rebounds and eight assists. That production is going to win a lot of basketball games.

“In my mind I feel I’m one of the best guards in the country,” Wigginton said. “Obviously, Trae is one of the best guards in the country too. We had a good matchup and I’m looking forward to the next one.”