Ejim Returns as Cyclones Knock Off Michigan

Melvin Ejim was masterful in his return from a hyperextended left knee injury. The immediate timetable slated the forward for an early-December return, but Ejim didn't look like anything was rushed

AP Dispatch

AMES, Iowa -- Melvin Ejim scored 22 points and Iowa State beat No. 7 Michigan 77-70 Sunday, spoiling Wolverines star Mitch McGary's season debut.

Naz Long added 16 for the Cyclones (3-0), who held McGary to just one point in the second half while notching one of their biggest wins under coach Fred Hoiberg.

McGary, a preseason first-team All-American who missed two games with a lower back injury, finished with nine points and six rebounds.

Nik Stauskas led Michigan (2-1) with 20 points and Derrick Walton Jr. had 13. Glenn Robinson III was held to 12 points on 4 of 14 shooting.

Ejim, who also played for the first time after missing two games with a hyperextended left knee, added nine rebounds as Iowa State closed the game on a 23-10 run.

Michigan kept threatening to pull away from the Cyclones in the second half -- especially with Iowa State forward Georges Niang on the bench with four fouls.

Ejim kept the Wolverines from doing it.

Stauskas took a loose ball and flushed it home with an emphatic one-handed dunk, only to watch Ejim answer with a 3.

Spike Albrecht then hit a layup, and Ejim responded with a jumper.

Iowa State's DeAndre Kane followed with a 3, and Naz Long's 3 capped a 13-2 run that gave the Cyclones a 67-62 lead with 5:00 left.

Kane had 13 points and six assists and Dustin Hogue added 12 points and 10 rebounds.

When McGary and Ejim entered play together with 16:17 left in the first half, no one was quite sure how healthy either one of them was.

But by the end of the half, it was clear that McGary and Ejim were the two best players on the floor.

McGary jumped a passing lane and maneuvered through Iowa State's defense for a transition layup, one of four field goals he had in the first half alone. Ejim, a preseason first-team All-Big 12 pick, gave the Cyclones a huge boost off the bench with 12 points and five boards his first 10 minutes of action.

McGary couldn't keep it up in the second half though -- while Ejim helped key Iowa State's late surge.

Michigan was just 8 of 29 from 3-point range and 4 of 9 on free throws.

Ejim's return was among the many reasons why Sunday's matinee was one of the biggest non-conference games Iowa State has ever hosted.

Hilton Coliseum sold out in less than 10 minutes when tickets went on sale last month. A school-record 22 NBA scouts requested credentials as well, no doubt hoping to get a glimpse of McGary and Robinson.

The Cyclones also brought back former coach Johnny Orr, who left Michigan for the Cyclones in 1981.

Though Michigan looked to be on the verge of pulling away more than once, Iowa State rallied to score a win that'll likely come in handy come March.

Trey Scott's early thoughts

  • Melvin Ejim was masterful in his return from a hyperextended left knee injury. The immediate timetable slated the forward for an early-December return, but Ejim didn't look like anything was rushed. Playing with a knee brace, the senior scored 22 points and plucked nine rebounds.

  • With Michigan's Mitch McGary making his season debut as well, the Cyclones desperately needed Ejim, especially with Georges Niang playing poorly in the early-going and picking up a fourth foul minutes into the second half.

    Ejim strung together a nice series with Iowa State down, hitting a three-pointer at the top of the key to make the score 62-all, then kissed a shot off the glass from the left wing despite the foul.

  • We said Niang played poorly early on, but was crucial down the stretch. He hit two free throws to give the Cyclones a 71-68 lead with 1:54 left, then after a missed Michigan three-pointer Niang banked in a shot for a five-point lead with 1:15 left.

  • Dustin Hogue again was a man of activity, scoring 12 points and pulling down nine rebounds. The JUCO transfer hit a free throw under one minute to give ISU a 74-68 lead.

  • McGary was quite the force for the Wolverines, with nine points and six rebounds, but it was Nik Stauskas who did the most damage to Iowa State, with four three-pointers and a big one-handed slam. Stauskas finished with 20 points.

  • Naz Long iced the game with two late free throws, but his three-point shooting kept Iowa State in the game. After DeAndre Kane left the game with a knee injury — he would return — the crowd was zapped a bit, but Long got them right back into it, with a three-ball from the top of the key with five minutes remaining.

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