Ames, Iowa — Scott Christopherson volunteered to play point guard this season to help stabilize new-look Iowa State, and coach Fred Hoiberg took him up on his offer.
But Christopherson is a shooting guard at heart, and a move back to his natural position helped the Cyclones pull off their most impressive victory of the year.
Royce White scored 17 points, Christopherson added a season-high 16 and Iowa State beat Iowa 86-76 on Friday night, giving the Cyclones their first three-game winning streak over the Hawkeyes since the mid-1980s.
Bubu Palo chipped in with a career-high 14 points for Iowa State (7-3), which last won three in a row over the rival Hawkeyes from 1983-85.
White had 14 points in the first half, when the Cyclones led by 23. Iowa got as close as 12 midway through the second half, but Iowa State pulled away behind Christopherson to give Hoiberg his fifth win in six tries over Iowa as a player and coach.
"You could just see it in his face that he was going to come out here and have a good game. Very focused," Hoiberg said of Christopherson, whom he moved back to shooting guard in Tuesday night's win over Prairie View A&M. "You need a night like he had (Friday) night to get the doubt out of your mind."
Devyn Marble scored a career-high 21 points to lead the Hawkeyes (5-5), who've lost five of their last seven to drop to .500.
Iowa looked hopelessly behind at the break but went on a 13-2 run early in the second half and pulled within 58-46 with 11:58 left. But Christopherson answered with a 3-pointer, and Melvin Ejim followed with a three-point play to put Iowa State back ahead 64-46.
The Hawkeyes still appeared to be on the cusp of another run that could make things interesting.
That never happened — and Christopherson delivered the final blows by slicing through Iowa's frontcourt for three layups to make it 77-57 with 4:44 left.
Christopherson, who said he'd been playing like "garbage" this season after averaging nearly 14 points a game in 2010-11, was 4 of 6 shooting in the second half.
"I think he's probably putting a little too much pressure on himself," Hoiberg said. "(Christopherson) looks much more comfortable out there now."
Iowa State knew Friday night's game presented the perfect opportunity to prove something after a 6-3 start that included losses to in-state rivals Northern Iowa and Drake.
White set the tone early, and his teammates soon followed his lead.
After Iowa went up 4-0, White hit two straight emphatic dunks off the dribble, which got the sold-out crowd into it. White followed with a 15-footer off the glass and a dish to Ejim for a dunk, and the Cyclones never looked back.
White found Ejim for another dunk, this one in transition, and Iowa State's lead grew to 32-17. Christopherson pushed it to 35-19 with a 3, and Chris Babb's tip-in of White's missed free throw put the Cyclones ahead 40-23 with 4:28 left in the first half.
Christopherson's 3 from the wing 2 minutes later gave the Cyclones their first 20-point lead, 46-25, and just about sealed the win.
Iowa State shot 59.4 percent in the first half, and White led the way with 7-of-7 shooting. But Christopherson said it was Iowa State's defense that allowed the Cyclones to push the tempo on offense in the first half.
"We were everywhere," he said. "Guys were covering for each other. That's really what we've been trying to get to, and it's good to see how good we can be when we're playing defense like that. Offensively, our team has a lot of guys that can score and make plays."
Melsahn Basabe had an encouraging outing for the Hawkeyes with a season-high 18 points and nine rebounds.
Iowa has suffered its share of tough defeats this season, including a 16-point home loss to lowly Campbell and a blowout in Iowa City at the hands of Clemson. But arguably none of those stung as much as Tuesday night's 80-60 loss at Northern Iowa.
This was Iowa's chance to respond on the home floor of one of its biggest rivals.
But the Cyclones never gave the Hawkeyes a chance to get going. Iowa used a late run in garbage time to make the final score seem close, but the game never was.
"We executed better, and we played better defense," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "We didn't make as many mistakes. I thought our shot opportunities were good. We made a much higher percentage.
"I thought the way we fought was great. But you can't give 59.5 (percent) on the road in the first half and expect to win."