On Saturday, the K-State Wildcats will look to stay perfect at home in Big 12 play as they take on the No. 15 Iowa State Cyclones. With a victory, the Wildcats (19-9, 9-6 Big 12) would set a new record for their longest home winning streak in Bramlage Coliseum.
“We’re definitely looking for revenge,” freshman guard Marcus Foster said. “We can’t have a team sweep us. So we have to definitely come out and play hard and keep playing and keep fighting.”
Iowa State (22-5, 10-5 Big 12) went undefeated in nonconference play, picking up quality wins against Michigan and rival Iowa. Their season took a bad turn in their third conference game, when they lost their first game to Oklahoma in Norman, Okla. That loss began what would be a three-game losing streak.
Iowa State is back on track after the rough start to conference play, though. After losing four of five games, they have won seven of eight. The Cyclones rank second in the Big 12 behind Kansas, who has already clinched a share of the title.
Cyclone head coach Fred Hoiberg, nicknamed “The Mayor,” leads Iowa State. Hoiberg made a name for himself when he played for the Cyclones in the early 1990s, averaging around 20 points per game in his final two seasons. He has an 84-44 record in his coaching career, which has all been at Iowa State. Hoiberg was named Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2012.
The Cyclones’ leading scorer is senior forward Melvin Ejim. Ejim’s best performance of the season came against TCU on Feb. 8 when he set a Big 12 record of 48 points and had 18 rebounds. He averages 18.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.
Iowa State is coming off a 83-66 victory against West Virginia in a revenge game. Earlier in the season, the Mountaineers blew out the Cyclones 102-77.
K-State has not played their best basketball as of late. Since the Wildcats’ signature win against Kansas, they have struggled. They are 2-2 in their last four games, with the two wins coming against the bottom two teams in the Big 12.
“We grinded out a really good win against a really good team (Texas Tech),” senior forward Shane Southwell said. “We have a really tough last three games starting with Iowa State and I really think we are making strides defensively and offensively. Like you see, we keep getting better and better. Guys are stepping up, we are really taking on that ‘next man up’ model and we are really doing well right now.”
In K-State’s last contest, they beat Texas Tech 60-56 in Lubbock, Texas. That was their first road victory since Jan. 7 against TCU. But K-State has just one loss on the season at home — against Northern Colorado.
“I’d rather play here than at Iowa State, that’s for sure,” head coach Bruce Weber said.
Iowa State will be the fifth ranked team the Wildcats have faced in Bramlage this season. K-State narrowly won three of those games, but let off some steam against Texas, winning by 17 points.
K-State fell 81-75 to Iowa State when the two teams met in Ames, Iowa on Jan. 25. Ejim and Foster had 20 points a piece for their respective teams. The game was significant for the Cyclones as they snapped a three-game losing streak.
Iowa State seemed to pull away from K-State multiple times in the first contest, but the Wildcats kept clawing their way back into it. Senior guard Will Spradling had nine of the points that helped his team erase a 12-point deficit in under a minute. But K-State failed to execute in crunch time, which led to their demise.
The second battle between these Big 12 foes is scheduled to tipoff at 6 p.m.