Wildcats head to Hilton to take on hot-handed Cyclones

Sophomore guard Marcus Foster makes a run after grabbing a defensive rebound in the second half of the Wildcats' 58-51 win over the Red Raiders January 14, 2015, in Bramlage Coliseum. (Parker Robb | The Collegian)

For the first time since the 2012-13 season, the K-State men’s basketball team has won four consecutive conference games. This streak will be tested tonight, however, when the Wildcats face No. 9 Iowa State on the road in a rowdy Hilton Coliseum environment.

Iowa State is 39-2 at home the past three seasons, making Hilton one of the toughest places to play in the country. K-State has not won in Ames, Iowa since the 2010-11 season, losing their last three contests by an average of 4.6 points. That being said, the Wildcats are already 1-0 in conference play on the road this season after beating No. 16 Oklahoma 66-63 in overtime on Jan. 10.

“They’re playing great basketball right now,” Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg said Monday via teleconference. “They’re as good defensively as any team in the country.”

Iowa State boasts the best scoring offense in the Big 12 at 80.3 points per game. They are outscoring their opponents by more than 13 points per game and consistently shoot the ball well from behind the arc. To compare, K-State is outscoring its opponents by an average of 3.2 points per game.

With five players averaging double-digits, there is no shortage of scoring ability in both the front and back court for the Cyclones. Iowa State also has the conference’s top assist man in sophomore guard Monte Morris. He has been a key figure for Iowa State, averaging 5.88 assists per game and a positive assist-to-turnover ratio (5.53), both conference bests.

The Cyclones are coming off a major win at home on Saturday against No. 9 Kansas. Junior guard Naz Long led Iowa State with 20 points in the game, along with five rebounds, two assists and a steal. Five other Cyclones finished in double-digits in the 86-81 win over the Jayhawks.

K-State will look to maintain their spot atop the Big 12 conference with a win over the Cyclones. The Wildcats are coming off four-straight wins, two against ranked teams, including No. 22 Baylor Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum.

“It is a long season with a lot of games to go,” Weber said Saturday. “We haven’t arrived yet. We just won one and that was a couple big wins this last week. We got ourselves in a bind, so we have to take them one at a time and keep finding a way to win.”

The Wildcats are led by sophomore guard Marcus Foster who is averaging 13.6 points per game on the year and 15.5 per contest in K-State’s last four victories. Nonetheless, senior forward Nino Williams will look push through his Hilton Coliseum woes and lead K-State. Williams is averaging 10.9 points per game this season, but for his career, is averaging just four points a game on the road in Ames.

“I never actually play well there,” Williams said. “I have been thinking about it all year. I think last week on the road, we were good. On the road in the Big 12 you have just got to play. They take away your sets and they take away a lot of things. You just have to play through it.”

Tipoff between K-State and Iowa State is set for 6 p.m.