October 02, 2014

AMES, Iowa (AP) In the biggest game of his life, Dustin Hogue came up huge for Iowa State.

Hogue knew the Cyclones needed a boost in last year's NCAA tournament matchup with Connecticut after losing star Georges Niang to a broken foot the game before. Hogue, a New York kid inspired by the opportunity to play at Madison Square Garden, scored a career-high 34 points on 15 of 19 shooting in the regional semifinals.

Hogue's unexpected outburst was triple his scoring average. But it wasn't enough to lead the Cyclones past the eventual national champions.

Still, Hogue's performance was a fitting end to a season in which he continually exceeded expectations. The Cyclones (28-8 in 2013-14) will be looking for more big things out of Hogue, now a senior, when they open the season against Oakland on Nov. 14.

''He hasn't slowed up. He's been going off at practice too. Dustin has put a lot of work in in the offseason, and he's looking really good,'' Niang said. ''We're going to be asking him to do a lot more things than just rebound and get scrap points.''

If the Cyclones are asking Hogue to take 19 shots a game this winter, they'll likely be in big trouble. But Iowa State will lean on Hogue's experience and tenacity in a rebuilt frontcourt.

The 6-foot-6 Hogue, a transfer from Indian Hills Community College, was expected to be a rotation guy who provided athleticism and energy in spurts last season.

Hogue quickly worked his way into the starting lineup and never left it - despite having to work his way into shape.

Coach Fred Hoiberg said Wednesday that Hogue's conditioning is better than ever, and so is his jump shot.

''I would put Dustin's offseason maybe at the top of the list,'' Hoiberg said. ''He's in a really good spot. He's been shooting the ball extremely well. He's been defending really well, and he can play multiple positions.''

Hogue's enthusiasm for rebounding went unmatched in the Big 12, which is why he wound up second in the league with 8.4 a game. But Hogue's ability to make opponents respect his jumper made him one of the more well-rounded players in the conference.

Hogue leaned mostly on his superior athleticism at Indian Hills. But Hogue immediately impressed Hoiberg with his basketball IQ, and a few tweaks to his jump shot - suggested by Hoiberg, of course - made it good enough to force defenders out of the post and into Hogue's face.

Hogue averaged 11.6 points a game last year. He did much of his offensive work in the post, shooting 57.3 percent, but he was also a surprising 34.4 percent on 3s.

''Coach (Hoiberg) always tells me that, no matter how many shots you take or make, you can never be too good of a shooter. He's helped me elevate my game as far as shooting goes,'' Hogue said.

The Cyclones will need Hogue more than ever in 2014-15, especially early in the season.

Big 12 player of the year Melvin Ejim is gone. Highly-touted center Jameel McKay won't be available until Dec. 20 after transferring from Marquette, and 7-foot-1 Greek center George Tsalmpouris is the ultimate project.

Hogue and Niang - who is also in noticeably better shape - will be expected to handle the interior for Iowa State until McKay becomes eligible.

The Cyclones will even run plays through Hogue this season, a marked departure from the days when he relied on rebounds and loose balls for scoring opportunities.

''That's definitely going to be a nice change. I don't have to worry about jumping over people's backs to get a rebound. I'm still going to be doing that, but to actually have a play drawn up for me should be nice,'' Hogue said.

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Follow Luke Meredith on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LukeMeredithAP

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