Melvin Ejim tallied a double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds to lead Iowa State to an 86-77 victory over Drake at the Hy-Vee Big Four Classic in Wells Fargo Arena in front of 13,180 fans.
Ejim, who tallied his career high of 22 points as a freshman at the Wells Fargo Arena vs. Creighton, posted his fourth double-double and the seventh double-digit rebounding effort of the season. The junior recorded career highs in free-throws made (11), steals (four) and assists (four).
The win improved Iowa State to 8-3 on the season going into a road game at UMKC on Wednesday night. Drake fell to 4-5 on the season.
Will Clyburn was instrumental in the victory, posting his third double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds. He was also 9-for-9 at the free-throw line.
Both teams suffered from foul trouble in the first half. A total of 23 fouls were called in the opening period, as both squads sat key players and struggled to get into a flow on offense.
Drake posted a 9-0 run to take an early 13-6 lead, but the Cyclones answered with an 8-0 run capped off by a Georges Niang bucket to go up 14-13 with 11:39 remaining in the first period.
ISU held the lead throughout most of the first half, taking an eight-point lead at 30-22 with 5:03 remaining. The Cyclones led at the break, 37-33 behind Ejim's 10 points and nine boards.
Iowa State stretched its lead to 10 points at 52-42 after an Ejim bucket with 15:25 left in the game.
Drake slowly whittled away at the Cyclone lead, cutting it to two points at 67-65 with 7:34 left in the game after a Seth VanDeest basket. Percy Gibson scored down low followed by a pair of Ejim free throws to move ISU back out in front, 71-65 moments later.
With ISU leading 77-71 with under three minutes left, Drake rebounded a Cyclone miss, but Clyburn stole the outlet pass and threw down a dunk and was fouled. He hit the free-throw to give ISU a comfortable 80-71 lead.
Iowa State once again dominated the boards, outrebounding Drake, 45-30, its 10th opponent the Cyclones have outrebounded this season.
The Cyclones recorded a season-low four 3-pointers, but went to the free-throw line a season-high 41 times, connecting on 31 attempts.
Chris Babb tallied 13 points and Niang posted 13 points in the victory.