AMES — Reporters tried three different angles in an attempt to get Iowa State’s Will Clyburn to hype his career game Saturday against BYU.
He wouldn’t bite.
The soft-spoken, but hard-to-guard 6-7 wing erupted for a personal-best 32 points, drained four 3-pointers and rose up for two dunks as the Cyclones trounced the Cougars 83-62 before a crowd of 13,739 at Hilton Coliseum.
“I’m really not sure,” Clyburn said when asked if there was a point at which he knew it would be his day. “I just wanted to go out there and keep playing hard and try to get us the win.”
Clyburn, a former Utah player who pushed his career scoring average against BYU to 24.3 points per game, sank three 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes.
He also drove the lane aggressively, which yielded 11 free throw attempts.
He made 10 — including two that came in a pivotal 12-0 run that turned a 40-37 edge into a 52-37 cushion with 17:17 remaining.
“He’s a fantastic player,” said Cougars coach Dave Rose, whose team fell to 5-3. “The one thing that he’s really good at is, it’s hard to get him in a hurry. He just plays at a great pace with great confidence. He was on.”
ISU (5-2) maintained at least a 12-point lead over the game’s final 17 minutes.
Defense fueled the victory, which snapped a two-game skid consisting of losses to top-25 Cincinnati and UNLV last weekend at Las Vegas.
Namely, guard Chris Babb’s defense on BYU scorer Tyler Haws, who ended up with nine points — 14 below his average.
“I tried to make him catch it a little farther out there than he likes to catch it,” said Babb, who also drilled a key 3-pointer to beat the first half’s buzzer. “Just contest all of his shots; don’t let him get anything easy.”
Haws went 4-for-13 from the field and lost a team-high five turnovers.
“The big thing Chris had to do was get physical and use his body,” Cyclone coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We executed our game plan very well.”
Part of that plan meant keeping things simple and fluid on offense.
That played out well, too.
Point guard Korie Lucious notched eight of his career high-tying nine assists before the break — with two ending in alley-oop slams for Clyburn and Melvin Ejim.
“It was a good job getting out there and just making the right play,” Hoiberg said. “Making simple basketball plays. And that’s what we talked about all week. We put them on the line and we ran them when they had turnovers this week. They didn’t like that, so they were making easy simple plays in practice and I think that carried over.”
Ejim scored 13 points while grabbing a game-high eight rebounds.
Lucious matched a season-high with 12 points and Percy Gibson and Tyrus McGee chipped in seven rebounds apiece off the bench.
Clyburn — who scored the most points by an ISU player since Jake Anderson dropped in 33 on March 9, 2011 — collected five boards along with two blocks and two steals.
“Everybody out there is feeling more comfortable as the season goes along,” he said.
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