AMES — Iowa State freshman guard Lindell Wigginton steps his game up when he plays tough competition.
The Cyclones and coach Steve Prohm will need him to do again as No. 13 Kansas (16-6, 8-4 Big 12) visits Hilton Coliseum to play Iowa State (13-11, 4-8 Big 12) today at 6 p.m.
Last time out against Kansas, Wigginton looked like the best player on the court, scoring a game-high 27 points. Against then-No. 15 West Virginia, Wigginton had 22 points and 5 assists. In his most recent game against then-No. 18 Oklahoma and Trae Young, Wigginton had 26 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds.
All of those games resulted in wins for the Cyclones. What does Wigginton do that allows him to step up his game against the best competition?
“He’s a good player. Let’s not overthink this thing, he’s a good player,” Prohm said. “He has an ability to put the ball in the hole, great athlete and he has great size.”
In big games, Wigginton plays like he has something to prove.
“I like to go up against the best,” Wigginton said. “I always have a chip on my shoulder, but when I go up against the best I want to show that I’m the best, too.”
Wigginton has been Iowa State’s primary point guard since the West Virginia game. Nick Weiler-Babb has been sidelined with tendinitis in his knee, but Prohm said Weiler-Babb is questionable for the West Virginia game.
Prohm wouldn’t say what the dynamic would look like on the court with Wigginton and Weiler-Babb now that Wigginton has started to embrace the point guard role.
“I’m thinking about it,” Prohm said. “I’m trying to work through it right now in my mind of how I want it to develop. I still want Lindell in attack mode, he’ll still have the ball in his hands a lot. He just has to continue to grow in that position. If Nick is able to play, he’ll be able to step in and help us. It’s just about winning, whatever we think gives us the best opportunity to win.”
Prohm has three main areas he wants Wigginton to grow in.
No. 1 is change of pace. Right now, Wigginton has one gear, and that’s fast. When he drives the ball, he puts his head down and he stops for no one.
No. 2 is decision making. He’s a freshman who makes freshman mistakes. Wigginton averages 2.8 assists and 2.5 turnovers per game.
The last one is picking his spots of when to attack and when to get others involved. Prohm knows that Wigginton is at his best when he’s in attack mode, but as a primary point guard, he has to run the offense and get his teammates engaged.
“I met with him [Sunday] after we had our film session and just talked to him more about trying to really watch some tape with him [Monday] at some point about what he needs to look for in different actions so he understands because he’s learning this position on the fly,” Prohm said. “I think he can become very good at it. I think he has a great deal of confidence in himself.
“He’s a great athlete and defensively he’s gotten so much better on the ball. He can really guard the ball now and there are a lot of good guards in this league to where he’s getting challenged every night. At home, especially, he’s really responded to that. Now this is the next test.”