PREVIEW: Men’s basketball finishes off regular season with rematch against Iowa State

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Senior guard Mike McGuirl shoots a jumper over Iowa State junior guard Tyler Harris in K-State's 74-65 victory against the Cyclones on Dec. 15 2020. (Photo Courtesy of Luke Lu | Iowa State Athletics Communications)

The men’s basketball team (7-19, 3-14) looks to cap off a tough season with a win against Iowa State (2-19, 0-16) on Saturday afternoon. The last time these teams met, the Wildcats came away with a 74-65 victory to kick off Big 12 Conference play in December.

A lot changed since the last time these two teams met.

Kansas State fought through the injury bug all year and a rollercoaster of highs and lows — losing to Fort Hays State back in early December before pulling off a major upset against at the time No. 7 Oklahoma on senior night on Feb. 23.

For the first half of the season, K-State lost in blowout after blowout. The Wildcats then found a late-season resurgence that came to a stop against No. 6 West Virginia on Saturday, falling 65-43.

In the first half against the Mountaineers, the Wildcats looked capable of pulling off another upset as the team was only down 26-22 at the halftime break, but an inconsistent second half filled with turnovers and bad shots sealed their fate.

Look for K-State to dominate on the glass in their matchup with Iowa State on Saturday. When the Wildcats and Cyclones last met, K-State won the rebound battle by 10 and managed to stay out of foul trouble throughout the entirety of the game.

Though the Wildcats shot an abysmal 17 percent from three, it was the free throws that lifted the team to the victory, shooting 90 percent from the foul stripe on the night.

Iowa State went through the same season as K-State, but hasn’t found the same results in the win column the Wildcats have.

Being blown out constantly throughout the season while also having close games, the Cyclones took No. 2 Baylor down to the wire, losing 77-72. It had a shot at taking down TCU, but eventually fell to the Horned Frogs 76-72 as well. The team showed it can play with teams and if teams don’t take them seriously, it has a shot to win, like how K-State took at the time No. 7 Texas and No. 17 Oklahoma State down to the wire, but lost both of those games as well.

Though winless in conference play, Iowa State still ranks higher in points per game than K-State while also having the highest free throw percentage in the Big 12 at 77 percent. On the other end, K-State ranks first in opponent free throw percentage — so look for the Cyclones to dominate at the charity stripe this time around.

K-State’s size will match up against Iowa State’s and the teams will battle on the free-throw line as well as the board.

If K-State can minimize its turnovers and find consistent play for the entire 40 minutes, it can come out with a win.

The Wildcats rank just one spot higher than the Cyclones in the Big 12 standings — who are dead last with no conference wins this season. Time will tell if Iowa State will get its first conference win on the season, or if the Wildcats can end this nightmare of a regular season on a high note.

The Wildcats take on the Cyclones at 4 p.m. Saturday inside Bramlage Coliseum. The game can be seen on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ and heard on the K-State Sports Network.

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