As Melvin Ejim made shot after shot in the closing minutes, every single crimson-and-gold fan could breathe a sigh of relief. Finally, the men’s basketball team wouldn’t be put in a tough position to close out a Big 12 road game.
Ejim scored 20 points and gathered 12 rebounds for Iowa State (18-8, 8-5), half of those points coming in the final 8:43 of the game against Baylor (16-10, 7-6). It’s his 11th double-double of the season. The Cyclones snapped a four-game losing skid on the road, winning their first road game since facing TCU in Fort Worth.
“We got the big stops when we needed it tonight,” Ejim said after the game. “That was the difference.”
He wasn’t the only player for ISU making clutch shots throughout. Tyrus McGee had 22 points off the bench; what’s more spectacular is that just nine of those points are from 3-point range. He went 8-11 from the field overall and 3-5 from the perimeter, also making 3-4 free throws.
Not on the stat sheet was McGee’s ability to stop multiple runs that Baylor had in the game. Every time the Bears ignited the crowd and kickstarted a run, McGee was cold-blooded with transition 3’s, turnaround jumpers, moving the ball around, and creating turnovers.
“I thought our ball movement was great tonight,” head coach Fred Hoiberg said, who was battling being sick on the sidelines. “We also made the crucial stops.”
Georges Niang added 15 points and four rebounds. He had 11 points in the first half before suffering with foul trouble in the second half.
Baylor kept up with Iowa State on the boards, only losing the rebounding margin 33-32, but they gave up 18 assists. Korie Lucious, Chris Babb, and Niang had four assists each. The Bears also went just 10-18 from the free throw line, in large part to Pierre Jackson hitting just 1-7 from the charity stripe despite his 30 points and eight assists.
Isaiah Austin had nine rebounds but just eight points, struggling to reach his scoring average again against the Cyclones. Cory Jefferson played better, getting a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Iowa State returns to Ames for a pair of games. They will host Texas Tech on Saturday afternoon before the big matchup against Kansas on Monday night.
Quotes from the Cyclone Basketball Twitter account.