Melvin Ejim’s Return Propels Iowa State Cyclones to Victory
Hilton Coliseum sold out in less than 10 minutes for the marquee matchup between Iowa State and Michigan. Mitch McGary was set to log his first minutes of the season for the No. 7 Wolverines. Five star shooting guard recruit Rashad Vaughn, who has Iowa State on his short list, was in attendance. Legendary head coach Johnny Orr was also in attendance to watch his two former teams square off against each other.
Many pundits wrote off the Cyclones in this matchup due to a knee injury to star forward Melvin Ejim. Ejim sustained the injury on Halloween in practice, and was not expected to return until December. Ejim did return; Ejim contributed; Ejim was the catalyst in Iowa State’s Sunday afternoon upset over Michigan.
Iowa State came into the contest having won their two previous contests with ease. Led by co- Big 12 Newcomer of the Week winner DeAndre Kane, the Cyclones didn’t miss a beat offensively with Ejim on the mend. Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg could be a dark horse coaching candidate for coach of the week despite Duke landing both Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor. Hoiberg notched his 100th win as a Cyclone, had his star player return in two and a half weeks from a knee injury, beat No. 7 Michigan 77-70 and had top recruit Vaughn in the house on his official visit.
Ejim scored 22 points and nine rebounds in his return to the team. The Cyclones, predominantly a three-point shooting team, were 6-20 from long range. Even without their primary weapon, the Cyclones still managed to unseat a top-10 opponent. Ejim (22), Kane (13), Georges Niang (10), Naz Long (16) and Dustin Hogue (12) all had double figures, the third time this season that Iowa State had had five players all in double figures.
Iowa State becomes the second team this week in the Big 12 Conference to unseat a top-10 opponent. Kansas’ victory Tuesday over Duke was the first. The Cyclones will travel to Provo, Utah Wednesday to face a Brigham Young team that scored 112 points on Stanford. With the way Iowa State is rolling right now, they can beat anybody in the country.
Jack Dooley is a Big 12 Basketball writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JackDooleyOCS.