Manhattan, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - Two of the Big 12 Conference's best square off at Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday night, as the Kansas State Wildcats play host to the Iowa State Cyclones.
Iowa State has been on a roll of late with four straight victories, its longest winning streak since starting the season 14-0. The Cyclones hosted West Virginia on Wednesday night and came away with an easy 83-66 win to move to an outstanding 22-5 overall and 10-5 in league play, but they have been simply modest on the road at 4-4.
Kansas State has enjoyed a stellar season of its own at 19-9 overall thanks in large part to its outstanding success at home, as it has gone 14-1 at Bramlage Coliseum. The Wildcats most recently took down Texas Tech on the road on Tuesday, 60-56, for their fourth win in the past six games, improving their standing in the Big 12 to 8-6.
The teams met for the first time this season back on Jan. 25, with Iowa State winning at home, 81-75. The Cyclones have won four of the past five meetings, but the Wildcats still own a 135-81 advantage all time.
The Cyclones overcame a first-half deficit earlier in the week to take a six- point lead into intermission and cruised from that point forward en route to the 17-point victory. They outshot WVU from the field, 50.8 percent to 35.8 percent, won the rebounding battle (46-38) and connected on 9-of-20 from 3- point range. Georges Niang was the spark plug with 24 points, while DeAndre Kane notched a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Naz Long shot 5- of-7 from beyond the arc off the bench for 15 points and Dustin Hogue posted 15 points and nine boards.
Iowa State has established itself as one of the nation's top teams thanks to its elite offensive attack, as it shoots 47.5 percent from the field for 83.6 ppg, with the latter ranking in the top-10 nationally. Its field goal percentage defense has been stellar (.406), but it plays such an up-tempo style that it's bound to own a less-than-impressive scoring defense (73.0 ppg). Melvin Ejim is the Big 12's top scorer with 18.4 ppg with strong percentages from the field (.524) and the foul line (.790) to go with 8.3 rpg. Niang nets 16.8 ppg, Kane is one of the nation's most well-rounded guards with 16.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 5.9 apg and 1.3 spg and Hogue a solid frontcourt with 10.8 ppg and 8.5 rpg.
After shifting the momentum of their latest game by ripping off a 15-2 run late in the second half, the Wildcats surged ahead with 55 seconds left following a three-point play by Wesley Iwundu and held on down the stretch for the impressive road victory. They shot 40.4 percent from the field on the evening, compared to 36.5 percent for Texas Tech, and they outscored their opponent from beyond the arc, 18-3. Marcus Foster paced the effort with 17 points, while Iwundu finished with 12 points and Thomas Gipson and Will Spradling netted 10 points apiece.
Kansas State has a modest offensive attack this season, shooting 43.6 percent from the field for 69.0 ppg, but it has been one of the Big 12's best thanks mostly to its stout defense, which yields a lowly 63.8 ppg on 40.2 percent shooting. The squad also enjoyed positive margins both in terms of rebounding (+1.5) and turnovers (+0.5). Foster has been stellar during his freshman season with 15.3 ppg, and he's only gotten stronger as the year has gone on, averaging 20.8 ppg over the last seven matchups. Gipson (11.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg) is a strong presence in the paint, shooting 56.5 percent from the field, while Shane Southwell brings 9.8 ppg to the table.