Clyburn leads way for Iowa State
By LUKE MEREDITH
AMES, Iowa (AP) For Iowa State to live up to its potential, senior transfer Will Clyburn has to play like a star.
On Saturday, Clyburn showed just how good the Cyclones can be when they follow his lead.
Clyburn torched then-No. 11 Kansas State for 24 points and 10 rebounds as Iowa State held off the Wildcats 73-67 for their first win over a ranked opponent this season.
It was a win the Cyclones (14-5, 4-2 Big 12) badly needed after an ugly loss at Texas Tech, and it kept them afloat in the upper half of the league ahead of Wednesday's game at Oklahoma State (13-5, 3-3).
Clyburn on Monday was named the Big 12's Rookie of the Week after posting back-to-back double-doubles - an honor made for some good-natured ribbing by Clyburn's teammates considering that he's 22 and at his third college.
But those same guys also know how important Clyburn is to everything they do.
"Will is one of the most versatile players in the country, in this league. We know what he can do every night, crashing the glass, scoring points," Iowa State senior Korie Lucious said. ""He's in the gym every day working on his game, so 20 (points) and 10 (rebounds) is expected from him."
The Cyclones knew they'd never be able to replace the production of Royce White, who led the team in all five major statistical categories in his only season in Ames.
But Iowa State figured they'd be able to replicate much of White's scoring, rebounding and rotation flexibility with the 6-foot-7 Clyburn, who starred in his only season at Utah in 2010-11 after starting out at Marshalltown Community College.
Fortunately for the Cyclones, Clyburn has been the star they thought he could be.
He's blossomed into the leading scorer on the Big 12's highest scoring team - and its most versatile player.
Clyburn is averaging 14.4 points, and he has scored in double figures 15 times in 19 games with five double-doubles. Though he was held scoreless in a loss at Iowa in early December, Clyburn shrugged off that bad outing and with at least four buckets in every game since.
Clyburn has shown a remarkable ability to affect games in multiple ways, which allows coach Fred Hoiberg to be creative when Clyburn is on the floor.
"The biggest thing we talk to Will about all the time is, `You've got to manufacture your own.' Whether he gets a defensive rebound and pushes out, gets us into an offense or goes and crashes the offensive glass, those are ways that Will can really get himself involved," Clyburn said.
Clyburn has also been remarkable steady in Big 12 play.
The soft-spoken Clyburn is sixth in Big 12 league games in both scoring (15.2) and rebounding (8.2), and he's fifth in shooting percentage at 47.1.
"It's going out there and trying to play hard and letting the game come to me," Clyburn said. "When you play hard, usually good things happen."
Clyburn has also served as a constant for a team that's continued to evolve, even as he's played everywhere from point guard to power forward.
Forward Melvin Ejim has become the Big 12's best rebounder, with at least 10 in eight of his last 10 games. But the minutes for big men Anthony Booker and Percy Gibson have diminished as freshman Georges Niang has blossomed, changing the team's dynamic on both ends of the floor.
None of that has affected Clyburn, who has quietly put together one of the more valuable seasons by anyone in the Big 12.
"Not many guys have the versatility to play four spots," Hoiberg said. "Will is able to take advantage of some mismatch situations when he's at (point guard) by posting and going around some bigger guys at (power forward). It's a great luxury to have."
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Updated January 28, 2013