The 11th-ranked Kansas State Wildcats and the Iowa State Cyclones will both try to bounce back from losses suffered earlier this week, as they meet in a Big 12 Conference showdown on Saturday afternoon at Hilton Coliseum.
Kansas State (15-3) was able to rise in the ranks in recent weeks thanks to an eight-game win streak, which was highlighted by a 67-61 triumph over nationally-ranked Florida on Dec. 22. That streak came to an end on Tuesday night however, as the Wildcats squared off against instate rival Kansas at home and were saddled with a 59-55 loss for their first Big 12 defeat in five tries.
Iowa State was red-hot coming into Wednesday's bout with Texas Tech, having won three in a row and seven of eight, but it fell to the Red Raiders on the road, 56-51. The season as a whole has still been a success for the Cyclones, as they sit at 13-5 overall and 3-2 in league play.
After 214 matchups, Kansas State holds a 135-79 advantage over Iowa State, although the Cyclones swept the season series in 2011-12.
The Wildcats trailed for much of their showdown with Sunflower State rival Kansas earlier in the week, and even though they cut the deficit to just one possession in the final minute, they could not overcome a poor shooting night (.351) it falling for the first time in a month. Shane Southwell kept his team in it with a stellar effort from 3-point range (5-of-11) on his way to 19 points, and he also added a team-high seven rebounds. Rodney McGruder chipped in 13 points, and Angel Rodriguez scored 12 points and dished out eight assists. On the season, the Wildcats have a rather modest scoring offense by Big 12 standards (68.5 ppg), but they have joined the nation's elite behind a fantastic defensive showing (57.4 ppg). McGruder ranks third in the league in scoring with 15.4 ppg, doing so on 43.7 percent field goal efficiency. Rodriguez (9.4 ppg) isn't nearly as true on his shot (.348), but he's a solid distributor (4.8 apg). Jordan Henriquez doesn't do much in terms of damage on the scoreboard (5.0 rpg), but he can be a difference-maker on defense with two blocks per game.
The Cyclones are the most potent offensive team in the Big 12, averaging 78.9 ppg, but they put together the their worst performance of the season in the five-point loss to Texas Tech by shooting just 35.3 percent from the field, including 6-of-23 from 3-point range. Will Clyburn was clearly off the mark (4-of-12), but he still finished with his fourth double-double of the season by tallying 12 points and 10 rebounds. Korie Lucious added 11 points in the setback on the strength of three treys. The Cyclones are one of the deepest teams in the conference, as they have six players who score at least 8.9 ppg. Clyburn leads the way with 13.9 ppg, and he also rips down 7.5 rpg. Melvin Ejim is also strong in the frontcourt, scoring 10.8 ppg and grabbing 9.5 rpg (first in the Big 12). Tyrus McGee (12.7 ppg) and Lucious (10.2 ppg) are sharp shooters, combining for 83 3-pointers, while the latter also ranks third in the league in assists with 5.3 per contest. Georges Niang scores 10.8 ppg on nearly 53 percent field goal shooting, and Chris Babb adds 8.9 ppg to the mix.