Baylor-Iowa St. Preview
Already off to the best start in school history, Iowa State is just one win away from its longest winning streak ever.
Standing in the Cyclones' way is a Baylor squad that enters conference play in strong fashion.
No. 9 Iowa State looks to knock off the visiting seventh-ranked Bears on Tuesday night for its school-record 14th straight win.
The Cyclones (13-0, 1-0 Big 12) have risen to their first top-10 ranking since the 2000-01 season, fueled by their best-ever start. They've blown away opponents by an average of 19.8 points per game while shooting 48.8 percent from the field.
Meanwhile, Baylor (12-1, 0-0) has won six in a row by an average margin of 23.0 points since its lone loss to then-No. 8 Syracuse in the finals of the Maui Invitational on Nov. 27.
But while the Bears steamrolled Savannah State 80-50 on Jan. 3 in their non-conference finale, the Cyclones opened Big 12 play in unimpressive fashion with a 73-62 win at previously 8-5 Texas Tech on Saturday.
The game was tied at 50 almost midway through the second half as Iowa State finished with its second-lowest scoring total of the season. Forwards Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim scored 17 and 16, respectively, but shot a combined 11 for 26 from the floor.
The Cyclones were also outrebounded for the second straight game after posting an average margin of plus-6.3 through their first 11 games. Five 3-pointers matched a season low after they hit at least eight in each of their last three contests.
"We let some things bother us tonight we had not been doing," coach Fred Hoiberg said. "We missed a couple of easy ones and I thought our body language changed a little bit but we found a way and I give my bench a lot of credit to get those guys to get back in it and find a way to finish."
Iowa State hopes its decisive home advantage versus Baylor helps it bounce back quickly. The Cyclones are 11-0 all-time at home against the Bears and have won three of four on their own court against top 10 teams, including an 80-72 victory over then-No. 9 Baylor on March 3, 2012.
The Bears have been dominant since their lone loss with reserve Taurean Prince providing a significant spark in the last two wins. Twelve of his 15 points against Savannah State came in the first half, complementing three teammates who finished with at least 11 points each. The sophomore forward scored a season-high 16 four days earlier in a win over Oral Roberts after averaging just 5.6 points in his first 11 contests.
"It's just a learning process, and I'm just trying to find where I fit and try to be the best at what I do," Prince said.
Leading scorer Cory Jefferson (14.2 ppg) is averaging just 6.0 points in five career games against Iowa State, while Ejim is averaging 12.2 on 60.5 percent shooting in his five matchups with the Bears. He finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds in an 87-72 win in Waco on Feb. 20.
Iowa State won its last game featuring two top 10 teams, defeating No. 6 Kansas 79-71 in Ames on Feb. 17, 2001.
The Cyclones own a 15-9 all-time series advantage.