McKay waited patiently for this moment. The 6-foot-9 forward waited from the time he transferred from Indian Hills C.C. to Marquette and finally to Iowa State. Then he waited some more, watching the first nine games this season from the sideline. By the time McKay’s feet touched the hardwood Saturday against Drake, he had waited 665 days and then the first six minutes, 26 seconds.
“It’s a day I anticipated for a long time,” McKay said. “I haven’t played for so long, so it was just good to be out there with my teammates competing and trying to contribute. I just wanted to bring energy today, as much energy as I can.”
McKay’s energy helped spark a second half run at Wells Fargo Arena in Saturday’s Big Four Classic, which ultimately resulted in an 83-54 drubbing for No. 13 Iowa State over Drake in front of a sold out crowd.
Iowa State started fast — the Cyclones shot nearly 52 percent from the field in the first half — in building a double-figure halftime lead on Drake.
“I loved our rhythm,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We got off to a great start, which was a huge key for us. We knew they were going to try to control the tempo of this game, but we got up 16 and really extended that early in the second half.”
McKay played for a portion of the first half when he checked in with 13:34 remaining before the break, but it was his second entrance that helped Iowa State run away.
During a span of nearly seven minutes in the second half, Iowa State pulled away from Drake with the help of a 20-4 run. The run was ignited in large part with help from McKay, who scored six of his eight points in that time and grabbed two of his five rebounds.
“I thought he was a big key why we were able to extend that lead in the second half, just because he was running the floor,” Hoiberg said. “You look at that first game for Jameel, he played 13 minutes only, but a very productive 13 minutes and those will continue to extend as the year goes on.”
McKay played eight minutes in the first half, and by the time he exited during a timeout, he was huffing and puffing.
“Hell, I was tired, because he was sucking all of the oxygen out of the gym,” Hoiberg said. “He was hurting. He should only be able to play five-minute stretches because of how hard he plays getting up and down the floor and getting to the rim.”
The Cyclones emptied the bench, using all 13 players while eventually building their lead as high as 35 points. That depth is a luxury the team may have — albeit not quite this extreme — with McKay now in the mix.
And after a long wait, McKay finally found the court.
“Jameel is going to add a lot to this team weapons-wise,” said Morris, who dished out four assists. “He can guard the perimeter and he can alter shots down low and rebound and start the fastbreak also. I’m looking for big things from Jameel. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so it’ll be good.”