AMES, Iowa (AP) — While everyone focused on the debut of Michigan’s Mitch McGary, it was easy to forget that Iowa State got Melvin Ejim back, too.
In a matchup of returning stars, Ejim outshone McGary and led the Cyclones to one of their biggest wins under coach Fred Hoiberg.
Ejim returned after missing two games with a hyperextended knee to score a game-high 22 points and Iowa State beat No. 7 Michigan 77-70 Sunday.
Naz Long added 16 for the Cyclones (3-0), who closed the game on a 23-10 run and held McGary to one point in the second half.
“Melvin, I can’t say enough about him. I told him in my office (Saturday), ‘If you do get the green light, I’m going to gradually ease you back into this thing’ — and I think I took him out for two minutes in the second half. Pretty big-time performance from Mel,” Hoiberg said.
McGary, a preseason first-team All-American who missed two games with a lower back injury, finished with nine points, six rebounds and four steals in 22 minutes.
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.
Michigan was 8 of 29 from 3-point range and 4 of 9 on free throws.
“We did not execute the way we had to. They changed a little bit of pressure on their defense and blew up a couple of plays and we panicked a little bit. Out of that still ... we had really good shots. They just didn’t go down,” Michigan coach John Beilein said.
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.
Ejim’s return was among the many reasons why Sunday’s matinee was one of the biggest nonconference games Iowa State ever has 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 taking over more than once, Iowa State rallied to score a win that’ll likely come in handy come March.
“This is huge for our program, for our fans to see our team winning like this. This is huge for them, to camp out all night and to see this, it’s just awesome,” Niang said. “I’m excited for the things that are in the future for us.”
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