Lubbock, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Off to the best start in program history, the 13th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones will attempt to remain unbeaten against the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Saturday afternoon as each team opens up Big 12 Conference play at United Spirit Arena.
Iowa State has been flawless this season, winning each of its first 12 games to rise all the way to No. 13 after starting the season unranked. The Cyclones, who are one of just seven remaining unbeaten teams in Division I, closed out non-conference play with a convincing 99-63 win over Northern Illinois on Tuesday night. This marks just the second true road game of the season for the squad, which previously beat BYU on Nov. 20, 90-88.
Texas Tech has been impressive in its own right this season, going 8-6 overall, including 7-1 on its home floor in Lubbock. The Red Raiders most recently snapped a two-game skid with a 100-69 triumph over Mount St. Mary's on Monday night.
The Cyclones have won three of the past four meetings against Texas Tech to take a 12-11 advantage in the all-time series.
The Cyclones controlled their most recent contest from start to finish, shooting 58.7 percent from the floor (including 11-of-28 from 3-point range), holding NIU to just 32.4 percent shooting and committing only five turnovers in the 36-point victory. Pacing six players in double figures was Melvin Ejim and Naz Long, who put up 17 points apiece, with Long doing so on 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. DeAndre Kane nearly had a triple-double with 16 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds, Georges Niang netted 14 points, and Monte' Morris and Dustin Hogue put up 11 points apiece.
Iowa State has gotten used to lofty scoring totals this season, as it shoots 49.3 percent from the floor en route to 88.2 ppg, which ranks second-best in the nation. The team is far from a one-trick pony however, as it also holds opponents to just 38.6 percent field goal shooting for 67.6 ppg while winning the rebounding (+5.0) and turnover (+1.7) battles on a consistent basis as well. Leading the way with 17.9 ppg is Ejim, who shoots 52.5 percent from the floor and also grabs 8.1 rpg. Hogue joins Ejim in the frontcourt and is a nightly double-double threat with 13.3 ppg and 9.8 rpg. Niang brings 15.8 ppg to the table, and Kane stuffs the stat sheet with 15.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg and 6.1 apg.
The Red Raiders had their most productive offensive performance of the year in their 100-point outburst against Mount St. Mary's earlier in the week, as they shot a blistering 63.3 percent from the floor and also helped their cause with an 18-of-21 showing at the foul line. The balanced effort was led by a pair of 14-point performances from Dejan Kravic and Jaye Crockett. Kader Tapsoba put up 13 points, Jordan Tolbert tallied 12 points and eight rebounds, Aaron Ross tallied 10 points and seven boards and Toddrick Gotcher also scored 10.
Texas Tech is typically a strong shooting squad, as it nets nearly 48 percent of its field-goal tries for 74.4 ppg, which is 6.2 ppg more than it allows. It also benefits from a solid free-throw percentage (.745) and positive margins in the rebounding (+4.5) and turnover (+1.8) battles, but it hasn't had much success from long distance, making only 4.5 3-pointers per game at a 31.4 percent clip. Crockett (13.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Tolbert (12.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg) are the catalysts from the frontcourt, each shooting greater than 58 percent from the field. Robert Turner scores 10.1 ppg but on just 39.2 percent shooting.