AMES —It’s crowded toward the top.
Four teams sit tightly clustered in third place in the Big 12 Conference standings — and thanks to Will Clyburn’s bravura performance, Iowa State’s one of them.
Clyburn notched his 14th career double-double with 28 points and 10 rebounds as the Cyclones knocked off Baylor, 79-71, before a sellout crowd of 14,376 at Hilton Coliseum.
“Just being aggressive, taking what the defense gave me,” said Clyburn, who achieved his sixth double-double in Cardinal and Gold and fueled a key 9-2 second-half run. “My teammates tried to find me and get me open. That’s basically what it was.”
ISU (15-6, 5-3) extended it’s home winning streak to 19 games. It’s the longest current home-based string of success in the Big 12, thanks to Oklahoma State’s upset of Kansas Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.
The Cyclones have emerged victorious in 11 straight conference games at Hilton — and haven’t lost to a team currently in the Big 12 since Kansas State beat them, 86-85, Feb. 5, 2011.
“(Hilton) continues to be, what I think is the most underrated arena in college basketball,” ISU Coach Fred Hoiberg said. “Our fans continue to come out. ... The fans are a huge reason for why we win in this building.”
An odd thing happened on the way to an 11th straight home win over the Bears (14-7, 5-3). The Cyclones struggled mightily from 3-point range, going 0 for 10 in the first half but still managing to lead 31-30.
“Great teams find a way when their shots aren’t falling,” Hoiberg said. “And we found a way tonight.”
Those same Cyclones made 13 of 24 from long distance in Wednesday’s 78-76 loss at Oklahoma State and entered the game tied for fourth nationally in 3-pointers per game at 9.3.
But Saturday the outside touch didn’t begin to come until Georges Niang swished a 20-footer with 16:24 left, tying the score, 40-40.
ISU had missed 13 straight threes before the lid was lifted — but Clyburn hit three more, including one that sparked a 9-2 run capped by Chris Babb’s driving layup with 5:31 remaining.
The Cyclones led 67-59 at that point and maintained at least a five-point lead thereafter.
“It’s a part of basketball,” Clyburn said of the outside shooting woes. “Your shots aren’t always going to fall, so you’re going to have to get to the free throw line.”
Clyburn made 11 of 12 from the stripe, keying the team’s 25-of-30 effort from the line.
Niang scored 17 points and Tyrus McGee added 10 off the bench while grabbing four offensive rebounds.
The Cyclones outrebounded the Bears 39 to 35 despite forward Melvin Ejim being hampered with foul trouble.
Ejim — who leads the Big 12 at 9.5 boards per game — played just 14 minutes but still collected eight rebounds.“I’m really proud of the guys for gutting out a win,” Hoiberg said.