AMES — Time to permanently bench the talk of Iowa State’s Melvin Ejim “flying under the radar.”
Saturday, the senior from Toronto soared miles above the range of any electromagnetic pulse, shredding single-game career high numbers in points (by far, with 48) and dunks (probably, with six) as the No. 17 Cyclones beat Big 12 cellar-dweller TCU 84-69 before 14,384 awestruck fans at Hilton Coliseum.
“It was the best game and most fun game of my life,” Ejim said.
Ejim’s 48 points proved to be a conference record — and 25 above his previous career best.
His 18 rebounds also set a new personal standard.
He scored 20 straight ISU points during a decisive second-half stretch and canned 20 of 24 field goal attempts.
And his six dunks?
Unofficially, a career topper, too.
“Nine minutes to go and I caught him looking at the scoreboard and I’m like, ‘What is he looking at?’” said fellow forward Georges Niang. “I looked up and he had 35. … I’m like, ‘Holy smokes. This could be a crazy night.’ Then I just made it a point to get him the ball.”
He and everyone else.
ISU (18-4, 6-4) assisted on 27 of 32 baskets.
Ejim, as noted, dropped in 20 of them — which also broke a Big 12 record for made field goals in a game — and 17 came with help from teammates.
“They really looked out for me,” Ejim said of Niang, DeAndre Kane (10 assists), and Monte Morris (seven assists). “It’s a brotherhood.”
Saturday it was all Ejim.
He said he didn’t really know how special his day had become until fans started chanting his name.
Public modesty’s one of Ejim’s strong suits — even after finishing just six points short of Lafester Rhodes’ single-game school record in points.
Ejim also said he didn’t remember if he’d every put up more than 48 before becoming a Cyclones.
As for his coach, Fred Hoiberg — who scored 41 for the Cyclones in a 1995 game against Colorado, he seemed to have a hard time recalling personal benchmarks, too.
“It was so long ago,” Hoiberg said. “I don’t remember back then, but I did have 51 against Indianola (in high school).”
So “The Mayor” remembers.
And he won’t forget other less savory elements of Saturday’s game either, such has how the Horned Frogs (9-13, 0-10) trailed just 60-52 with 8:20 left — a fact obscured by Ejim’s just-started personal 20-point run that spanned seven in a half minutes.
“I take my hat off to (TCU),” Hoiberg said. “They’re playing hard, solid basketball.”
That last adjective — solid — has often been used to describe Ejim, who has scored 14 more more points in 17 straight games.
But 48’s special, and when Ejim finally left the court with 19.9 seconds left, Hilton let him hear it.
“It’s great to be loved,” he said.
Hoiberg later noted Ejim’s performance would earn the national spotlight, rendering radar moot hereafter.
“For a guy like (former Texas star Kevin) Durant and (former Oklahoma star) Blake Griffin — and all the great players that have gone through this league, Melvin Ejim’s name is at the top for points,” Hoiberg said. “And that’s unbelievable for a guy who probably doesn’t get as much credit as he deserves.”
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