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After winning its first 14 games of the year, Iowa State has lost three straight games, yet is still ranked No. 16 in the polls. Two of those were road games and the other was against Kansas. Kansas State is back in the rankings at No. 22, but will likely fall out after losing at Texas on Tuesday, unless they win this game.
The Cyclones are a dominant home team and after losing to the Jayhawks in their last home stand, it's hard to see them falling again in Ames. On the other end of that is K State, who struggles mightily on the road, losing by 26 at Kansas and by a buzzer beater at Texas.
Iowa State has the type of team that can make some noise in the Big Dance with multiple players that can score. Their main problem is having a dominant big guy down low, especially on the defensive end, but their athleticism usually outweighs that. In their last three losses, the Cyclones had trouble dealing with a true center.
Georges Niang is ISU's biggest starter, and he's only 6-7 and 240 pounds. That presents problems against teams that feed the ball down low. One thing that offsets that is their three-point shooting, as almost every Cyclones player that can hit from range. While they don't chuck it up as much as last year, it's still a part of their game. In the loss to Kansas, they only shot 4-of-25 from behind the arc. Obviously, if they shoot that poorly, it's going to be hard to win.
But still, the Cyclones are immensely talented and will bring tons of problems to Kansas State on the defensive end. Melvin Ejim (17.7 PPG, 7.1 RPG) and Georges Niang (15.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.6 APG) are both tough matchups due to their size and ability to score in the paint. The main difference maker for the Cyclones this year has been transfer DeAndre Kane who is averaging a crazy 16.7 PPG, 7.2 RPG and 5.8 APG. He's only 6-4, but is super athletic and great on the offensive end. And then of course you can't leave out Dustin Hogue's effect on the team this year as he leads with 9.1 boards per game.
Kansas State will have a hard time guarding all of those players. Will Spradling is a solid guard, but has nowhere near the athleticism as some of the ISU players. Their leading scorer, freshman Marcus Foster (13.7 PPG), struggled at Texas shooting 3-of-12 and could have trouble again. Big man Thomas Gipson will be the Wildcats main option on offense in this game, much like the last two where he totaled 44 points. With his size at 6-7 and 265 lbs., he has the ability to push around guys down low. Not to mention Gipson also has a decent jumper which defenders have to respect. Senior Shane Southwell will have to be a bigger factor in this game if they want to stay close. Against the Longhorns he finished with 13 points, but only two boards and three assists. He needs to be more involved for KSU.
The Wildcats know they need a big road win at some point this season and the Cylcones are ripe having lost three straight. However, this one could easily get out of hand if Iowa State comes out gunning. It could have a similar score line to KSU's loss at Kansas if Gipson can't get things going down low.
Iowa State 79 Kansas State 65
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