Cyclones take on Longhorns in Big 12 tussle

Austin, TX ( - The 14th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones try to stay above the fray in the Big 12 Conference, as they clash with the Texas Longhorns at the Frank Irwin Center on Saturday.

Iowa State trails only eighth-ranked Kansas in the league standings, the Cyclones showing a record of 9-4 in league play and the Jayhawks sitting at 10-3 entering the weekend. Three nights ago, the Cyclones logged a 70-65 victory over Oklahoma State, marking the second straight victory (both over ranked opponents) and the third in the last four outings overall.

With one more win the Cyclones will reach 20 on the season, marking the first time in school history that the program has recorded four straight 20-win campaigns.

As for the Longhorns, they reside in the bottom half of the Big 12 standings with six wins in 13 chances. The team had been enjoying a three-game win streak coming into the week, but stumbled against 17th-ranked Oklahoma at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman on Tuesday night, 71-69.

Texas leads the all-time series with Iowa State by a 17-12 mark, and has taken all but one of the previous meetings played in Austin. However, the Cyclones won the first meeting of the season, an 89-86 final in Ames back on Jan. 26, as George Niang led five players in double figures for the hosts with 19 points, while Javan Felix accounted for a game-high 20 points and eight rebounds for the visitors before fouling out.

In a game that featured 10 ties and 12 lead changes, the Cyclones survived 39.3 percent shooting from the floor in order to come away with the win against OSU three nights ago. Jameel McKay stepped up and provided a double- double consisting of 17 points and a game-high 14 rebounds, not to mention four blocked shots and a pair of steals for the Cyclones. Dustin Hogue and Monte Morris pitched in with 14 and 11 points, respectively, as the team held a huge 44-28 rebounding advantage as McKay pulled down nine offensive rebounds all by himself, five more than OSU had in total.

Niang, who finished with nine points the last time out, continues to lead the Cyclones in scoring when the team faces off against the rest of the Big 12, posting 13.5 ppg as he makes good on an impressive 45.2 percent behind the 3- point line. But as well as Niang plays, having a balanced attack is what Iowa State is all about these days, making it that much harder for defenses to shut down four other players who are scoring in double figures as well. Morris (11.6 ppg) supplements his scoring efforts with almost six assists per outing, lifting McKay (10.8 ppg), Bryce Dejean-Jones (10.6) and Hogue (10.4) all have a hand in keeping the ball rolling for ISU.

Texas held the Sooners to just 36.1 percent shooting from the floor in their most recent meeting, but one of the more telling stats for the Longhorns was that they forced just five turnovers, a number that allowed the hosts to slip by with the two-point win. Myles Turner came up with a game-high 17 points and cleared 10 rebounds for Texas, while Kendal Yancy tacked on 14 points and Felix another 10 in the close call. Jonathan Holmes stepped up with a game- high 11 boards, but his 2-of-9 shooting from the field left him with only five points.

During conference play, Taylor is putting up 12.3 ppg for the Longhorns and while his 58 assists in those 13 starts is also an encouraging number, it still doesn't cover up the fact that he has shot only 36.0 percent from the field and made just 4-of-22 behind the 3-point line. Turner pitches in with another 11.1 ppg and supplies 6.5 rpg and 39 blocked shots, both of which are team highs, but for someone who has his hands on the ball that much, even by accident he should have more than three assists in over 300 minutes of playing time.