Frank Haith's first season in Columbia has been highly successful, as the Tigers opened the year with 14 straight wins. That streak ended with a humbling 75-59 loss to Kansas State this past weekend. Still, the 14-1 mark to start the season stands tied for the fourth best mark in program history.
It would be foolish to sleep on the Cyclones, as Fred Hoiberg has built a strong program in Ames in just two years. Iowa State is 12-3 on the season but is playing some of its best basketball to date with a seven-game win streak in tow. The Cyclones have opened league play with two wins, topping Texas (77-71) and Texas A&M (74-50) in the last week.
These two teams have met every year since 1909 with the exception of two seasons (1915, 1927). The Tigers hold a 147-84 series advantage and have won each of the last seven meetings.
An opponent finally found a formula for slowing down Missouri's potent attack, as Kansas State held the Tigers to a season-low 59 points. UM certainly hurt itself in the setback by shooting just .327 from the floor, including a miserable .227 in the first half that had the team trailing by an insurmountable 19 points at intermission (44-25). Marcus Denmon led three Tigers in double figures in the loss with 17 points. Michael Dixon added 16 points off the bench, while Matt Pressey finished with 11. The Tigers remain one of the top offensive teams in the nation, shooting 51 percent from the floor and putting up 84.4 ppg. Scoring depth is apparent with four players averaging double figures, led by Denmon's 18.7 ppg. Kim English adds to the aerial assault with 15.4 ppg and he and Denmon have combined for 89 of the team's 127 three-pointers to date. Ricardo Ratliffe adds frontcourt balance at 13.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, while Dixon has been invaluable off the bench with 12.8 ppg.
Iowa State got off to a fast start, shooting 51.6 percent from the floor in the first half, compared to a mere .286 effort from Texas A&M, as the Cyclones took a 19-point lead into halftime (42-23) and never looked back. Five Cyclones contributed double figures in the balanced attack, but it was the play of Royce White that stole the headlines, as the 6-8 sophomore posted just the fourth triple-double in school history, with 10 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists. Melvin Ejim added 15 points off the bench. Scott Christopherson finished with 13 points, while Chris Babb and Chris Allen chipped in with 11 and 10 points, respectively. A dangerous offensive squad, ISU is averaging a healthy 76.2 ppg and has really used the three-pointer to its advantage, averaging nearly nine treys per contest (8.9). White is the driving force in the frontcourt, leading the team in both scoring (12.9 ppg) and rebounding (9.3 rpg). Allen is a close second in scoring (12.4 ppg), while depth is found in Christopherson (10.6 ppg) and Babb (10.5 ppg).