Tyrese Haliburton thrives as focal point against Delta Devils

Iowa State Head Coach Steve Prohm directs his players during the Cyclones’ 101-53 win over Eastern Illinois.

Zane Douglas

The first game of the season showed a lot about the identity of the Cyclones, but what was the most telling was the star-like play of sophomore Tyrese Haliburton.

Haliburton was one of the most efficient players in the Big 12 last season and with the departures of Lindell Wigginton, Talen Horton-Tucker, Marial Shayok and Nick Weiler-Babb, it was no secret that Haliburton would have to take on a bigger role.

“Last year I couldn’t wait to get on the floor,” Haliburton said. “I remember probably for the first like 10 games my hands would shake you know nonstop before the games.”

Haliburton finished with 12 points, 14 assists, seven rebounds and six steals in the 30 minutes he played. He also made a pair of threes on five attempts. Haliburton shot 5-10 overall in the 110-74 win over Mississippi Valley State.

For a time, it looked like Haliburton might have a shot at a triple-double after six rebounds in the first half, but Haliburton only played 11 minutes in the second half.

Nonetheless, Haliburton filled up the stat sheet against the Delta Devils, especially in the assist column.

“Tyrese has a lot of good,” said coach Steve Prohm. “I mean 14 assists, three turnovers, […] he turned down some good looks.”

The rest of the Cyclones played solid in this game as well but a lot of credit can go to Haliburton’s ability to control the offense and the tempo.

Iowa State was running Mississippi Valley State up and down the court, and in the second half, the Delta Devils switched to a zone defense against the fast-paced Cyclone offense.

It didn’t help much as the Cyclones had only two fewer points in the second half, scoring 54 to the first half’s 56.

“I didn’t see a ton of bad shots, I thought the ball moved, I thought they were pretty selfless,” Prohm said.

The team had 32 assists on 45 baskets — which means 71.1 percent of Iowa State’s baskets were assisted on.

This unselfish play was led by Haliburton who has been labeled as a pass-first point guard.

Prohm said that he thought Tyrese played well, but can occasionally look too much for the pass on the court.

“Tyrese almost can be too unselfish,” Prohm said. “I think when’s he’s playing with a selfless spirit, these other guys are.”

Haliburton got named to both the Wooden Award watch list and the Naismith Trophy watch list before the start of the season.

Some of the other contributors were transfer Prentiss Nixon in his first game with the Cyclones, sophomore Zion Griffin after a forgettable freshman season and forward Michael Jacobson.

Nixon set the tone early for Iowa State as he inserted himself into passing lanes and wasn’t afraid to shoot. Nixon ended with 16 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals.

Griffin scored a new career-high in points with 11, while Jacobson added 20 points of his own to lead the Cyclones in only 22 minutes. Jacobson also grabbed nine rebounds.

A point was made before the season started about Jacobson’s tendency to fall I love with the three-point line a bit, but the Nebraska transfer only took five threes on Tuesday — three of which went down.

“I think the biggest thing is just you know having guys like Tyrese who has 14 assists,” Jacobson said. “I was just trying to be ready when it came to me and guys found me and I knocked it down.”