DES MOINES — Quiet? Easygoing? That’s not Iowa State forward Will Clyburn.
Not to Chris Hines, his former roommate at Utah, anyway.
“Competitive all the time, one-on-ones, games all the time,” said Hines, who like his friend transferred to an Iowa school last season — in his case Drake. “We used to go on a bus and freestyle against each other. Anything, games, one-on-ones, freestyling, eat fast — everything.”
The Cyclones (7-3) meet the Bulldogs (4-4) in Saturday's 4 p.m. Big Four Classic game at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
Both well-traveled former Utes seek to find a consistent groove in their relatively new digs. Both seniors have shown flashes of brilliance, while navigating fresh ground.
“It’s going to be a fun game,” said Clyburn, ISU’s leading scorer at 14 points per game. “We always talked about if we ever played each other what would we do, so it’s going to be interesting.”
Clyburn, a 6-7 small forward, posted a double-double (21 points, 15 rebounds) in an 82-70 loss to No. 18 UNLV and scored a career-high 32 points in an 83-62 win over Utah rival BYU.
But he’s struggled since, making 8 of his last 29 shots while committing 13 turnovers. Call it an aberration.
“The reality is he’s a very, very good player, a very talented player,” said Bulldogs Coach Mark Phelps. “A guy that can fill up the stat sheet.”
Hines, a 6-1 shooting guard, is coming off his best Drake performance — a 19-point effort in a 74-64 win over Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne. He said a tough early schedule that includes losses to St. Mary’s and Xavier and a road win at Nevada prepared the Bulldogs for the Cyclones.
“I think we’re right there,” said Hines, who struggled with injuries at Utah that lingered as he acclimated to Des Moines. “I think we’ve been tested and I think we’re more than ready.”
So is ISU.
Coach Fred Hoiberg said last season’s 74-65 loss at the Knapp Center prompted reflection and marked improvement from his team.“Similar, I thought, to how we played at Iowa (last Friday’s 80-71 loss) where we just didn’t pull together when adversity hit us,” Hoiberg said. “I give that team credit. We learned from it and we took big steps in the right direction and I’m confident this group will do the same thing.”