AMES, Iowa (AP) — Part of the reason Iowa State was so excited to bring in Chris Allen was his experience in February and March.
The games are getting bigger and bigger for the Cyclones, and Allen just keeps playing better and better.
The Michigan State transfer scored a career-high 25 points and Iowa State pounded Texas A&M 69-46 on Saturday for its fourth victory in five games.
Scott Christopherson added 10 points for the Cyclones (18-7, 8-4 Big 12), who pulled into a tie with Baylor for third place in the Big 12 ahead of Monday night’s showdown with the Bears in Waco, Texas.
The Cyclones head south with a red-hot Allen, who is averaging more than 18 points a game in his last four contests.
“Guys did a great job finding (Allen), who really got it going,” Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. “It’s been great to see him play like we all knew he could play.”
Iowa State blasted Texas A&M 74-50 last month. But this one might have been even easier, as the Cyclones turned a comfortable lead into a huge one with a 13-0 run early in the second half to go up 48-22.
David Loubeau scored 10 points for Texas A&M (12-12, 3-9), which was outrebounded 38-22 en route to its fourth straight loss.
Texas A&M, the Big 12′s second-worst offensive team, scored just three points in the opening 8½ minutes of the second half.
“I was disappointed that we didn’t compete the first 5 minutes of the second half,” Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. “We have to max out on every play. We’re so limited, and Iowa State took advantage of it.”
Iowa State saw its three-game winning streak snapped Tuesday night with a tough 69-67 loss at Oklahoma State.
The Cyclones had little trouble bouncing back against the surprisingly woeful Aggies — and even when Iowa State made mistakes, it was quick to fix them.
Melvin Ejim went up for an easy dunk off a textbook entry pass from Christopherson early in the second half. But Ejim was flat-footed and, after misjudging his distance from the rim, blew the slam. The Cyclones got it back, though, and Allen curled open for a 15-footer that gave Iowa State its first 20-point lead at 42-22.
“He’s been through the grind, being a fifth-year senior,” Kennedy said of Allen. “We didn’t have an answer for him.”
The Cyclones’ lead hit 26 points before Khris Middleton broke Texas A&M’s drought with a 3-pointer. But Tyrus McGee answered right back with one from the corner to put Iowa State ahead 51-25 midway through the second half.
The Aggies haven’t yet cracked 55 points in a Big 12 road game, and it wasn’t hard to see why.
They shot just 36 percent, had eight assists against 16 turnovers and had just Loubeau in double figures.
Still, Texas A&M was within striking distance for much of the first half. But Iowa State’s Royce White, a 6-foot-8 forward with strong passing skills for a big man, showed them off by driving to the lane and tossing a 20-foot, behind-the-back pass to Allen for a 3 that made it 28-19 Iowa State just before the break. Allen then wove through the lane for an easy layup that put the Cyclones ahead 30-19.
Things only got worse for the Aggies in the second half.
“I loved our focus coming out of the locker room,” Hoiberg said. “You could tell how much that loss bothered our guys, after Oklahoma State. We really responded.”
White, who registered a triple-double against the Aggies last time out, scored just five points but had seven assists and 10 rebounds.
Middleton, the Aggies’ second-leading scorer at 12.4 points a game, returned from a right knee injury that cost him the previous five games and scored five points in 18 minutes. But starting point guard Dash Harris missed his fifth straight game with an injured right foot.
The Cyclones, who have won six of eight, can now turn their attention to what should be a huge game against the Bears.
Iowa State is in good position for an NCAA tournament at-large bid, but beating Baylor would provide the signature road win that has eluded the Cyclones so far.
“This is the time where, if your team isn’t at the highest peak or peaking, there’s really no point in you to even keep playing because teams are so much hungrier when it gets around this time,” Allen said.
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