Iowa State (16-6) at (13) Kansas State (18-4)
Saturday, February 9, 6 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bramlage Coliseum (12,528) -- Manhattan, Kansas. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: ISU 13-0, KSU 10-1. Away Record: ISU 2-5, KSU 5-1. Neutral Record: ISU 1-1, KSU 3-2. Conference Record: ISU 6-3, KSU 7-2. Series Record: Kansas State leads, 135-80.
GAME NOTES: Two of the Big 12 Conference's best are set for a showdown at Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday evening, as the 13th-ranked Kansas State Wildcats play host to the Iowa State Cyclones.
Iowa State is in the midst of a strong 16-6 season, and the team is 6-3 in conference play -- just a game out of first place. The Cyclones are coming off back-to-back wins over Baylor (79-71) and Oklahoma (83-64) on their brief homestand, but while they are undefeated in Ames this season, they are only 2-5 in true road tests.
Since losing back-to-back games in late January, Kansas State has bounced back nicely with three straight victories, most recently taking a 68-59 road decision at Texas Tech on Tuesday night. The streak has allowed the Wildcats to improve to 18-4 overall, and at 7-2 in the Big 12, they are tied with Kansas atop the league standings.
These two teams met on Jan. 26, when Iowa State upset K-State in Ames, 73-67. The Cyclones have won three straight games in the series, but the Wildcats still hold a 135-80 advantage all-time.
Iowa State made easy work of Oklahoma on Monday night thanks to an outstanding shooting night, making nearly 51 percent of its field goal attempts (including 11-of-27 from 3-point range), while also forging an impressive 16-of-18 showing at the foul line. Will Clyburn was the catalyst in the victory, shooting 7-fo-10 from the field for 19 points. Chris Babb and Melvin Ejim tallied 12 points apiece, while Tyrus McGee made an impact off the bench with 11 points. The strong offensive effort was nothing new for the Cyclones, who are the Big 12's top-ranked scoring offense (78.7 ppg). They are potent from 3-point range, draining 201 long-range shots at a 36.2 percent clip, both league-highs. Clyburn (15.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg) is the top scorer for a team with no shortage of options. McGee (12.2 ppg) has been an outstanding sixth-man, while Georges Niang (11.5 ppg) and Ejim (10.2 ppg, 9.3 rpg) both do fine work in close to the basket. Korie Lucious (9.5 ppg) is third in the conference with 5.6 apg, and Babb adds 9.3 ppg to the mix.
For the third straight game and for the sixth time in the last seven, Kansas State held an opponent to 60 points or less, as it used another great defensive effort to overcome a modest shooting night (.434) to capture the nine-point win over Texas Tech. Rodney McGruder was the spark plug in the triumph with 18 points and nine rebounds, while Angel Rodriguez tacked on 13. Thomas Gipson (12 points) and Martavious Irving (10 points) both turned in solid efforts off the bench. The Wildcats have ascended to one of the top teams in the nation thanks to their scoring defense, which is tops in the Big 12 in allowing just 57.8 ppg. The defensive stand often carries a mediocre offense, which ranks fifth in the league in both points per game (68.3) and field goal percentage (.431). The offense usually goes as McGruder does, as he is the only player averaging double digits with his 14.6 ppg, doing so on 44 percent efficiency from the field and 72.4 percent from the foul line. Rodriguez (9.4 ppg) has handed out 96 assists compared to only 39 turnovers, while Will Spradling chips in with 8.5 ppg.
Iowa State clearly has the more potent scoring attack, and it has already proven it can defeat K-State, but it has been a completely different team on the road this season. Expect the Wildcats to slow down the Cyclones just enough to successfully defend their home floor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kansas State 68, Iowa State 63
02/09 11:29:45 ET