Iowa St.-Kansas St. Preview
Kansas State is in position to set the longest home win streak in school history Saturday night.
The Wildcats are yielding the fewest points in the Big 12 and will be out to avenge an earlier loss to No. 15 Iowa State, which is the conference's highest scoring team.
The venue has been critical this season for Kansas State (19-9, 9-6), which can record a 15th straight home win. While the Wildcats haven't lost at Bramlage Coliseum since the season opener, they finally ended a six-game road losing streak with Tuesday's 60-56 victory at Texas Tech.
"You know just keep fighting, you have to believe and something good will happen," coach Bruce Weber said. "It was a good all-around team effort for us."
Defense was the key as the Wildcats held the Red Raiders to 36.5 percent shooting. Kansas State is yielding 63.8 points per game and allowing opponents to shoot a Big 12-low 40.2 percent.
Iowa State (22-5, 10-5) leads the conference with 83.6 points per game while shooting 47.5 percent to trail only No. 5 Kansas in the Big 12.
The Cyclones will be looking for a bounce-back effort from Melvin Ejim, averaging a conference-best 18.4 points. Ejim was limited to seven points Wednesday due to foul trouble, picking up his fourth on a technical with 17:13 left in an 83-66 home win over West Virginia.
"The one thing about Mel is he learns from things like this and I don't think it will happen again," coach Fred Hoiberg said.
Iowa State used a solid team effort to overcome Ejim's lack of production in its fourth straight victory. Georges Niang scored 24 points and DeAndre Kane added 17 and 11 rebounds.
Freshman point guard Monte Morris had 12 assists with no turnovers, continuing his stellar season in which he leads the country with a 5.94 assist-to-turnover ratio.
"He gets that thing and he makes plays," Hoiberg said. "He's throwing lobs, he's recognizing mismatches, he's throwing the ball into the post, he does such a good job of recognizing where the ball needs to get."
Iowa State won 81-75 over Kansas State on Jan. 25. Ejim had a technical and scored 20 while Niang added 18.
Marcus Foster scored 20 points to lead the Wildcats, who battled back from a 12-point halftime deficit to tie the game with 5 minutes left.
Foster ranks second to the Jayhawks' Andrew Wiggins among conference freshman with 15.3 points per game. He is looking forward to the regular season's last week.
"We've got Iowa State, a Top-25 team, Oklahoma State, still a good team even though they are struggling," Foster said. "Baylor, they've been struggling but still a good team, so we've got three good teams coming up."
The Cyclones have dropped 10 of their last 12 visits to Kansas State, but are confident they have turned the corner with this win streak that began after a 102-77 loss to the Mountaineers on Feb. 10.
"When you get beat by 25, you've got to look into the mirror and the first person you look at is yourself," Hoiberg said. "And I certainly did and I challenged our players to do that as well and they've responded with unbelievable focus and unbelievable practices."