Here is everything you need to know about the Kansas State Wildcats and the Iowa State Cyclones in our Kansas State vs. Iowa State Big 12 women’s basketball preview.
6:30 p.m. Central Time, Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022, Hilton Coliseum, Ames, Iowa
TV: Big 12/ESPN+
Records: Kansas State: 16-5 (6-3 in Big 12); Iowa State: 18-3 (7-2).
Ranking: Kansas State: No. 25 (Associated Press) Iowa State: No. 11 (Associated Press).
Last game: Kansas State: def. TCU, 63-54 (Jan. 29); Iowa State: def. Texas Tech, 86-65 (Jan. 29).
Previous meeting: Iowa State 73, Kansas State 70 (Jan. 11)
Spread: You can bet on this game wherever you like to place your bets, including Powerplay Canada.
C Ayoka Lee: This is your obligatory Lee update. She’s a Top 20 candidate for the Wooden Award and remains one of the top players in the country. She leads the Big 12 with 25 points per game (also second in the nation) and is the conference’s best shooter (58.2 percent). She leads the Big 12 with 3.2 blocks per game and has 14 double-doubles. Oh, and there’s that 61-point game against Oklahoma. She had 38 points and 11 rebounds in the first meeting with Iowa State.
G Serena Sundell: The freshman guard is reaching ‘obligatory update’ status as well. The three-time Big 12 Freshman of the Week is averaging 10.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and five assists per game. She is competing with Texas guard Rori Harmon to be the league’s Freshman of the Year. And her 37 percent from the 3-point line keeps defenses honest.
G Emilee Ebert: She’s the Wildcat that we don’t talk about much, even though she has started 12 of her 19 games this year. She averages 5.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. But, lately, her defense has been on point. She only has 14 steals this season, but she has six in the last three games. Expect her to defend someone important.
F Ashley Joens: Remember that Wooded Award stuff? Well, Joens is on that list, too. She averages 20.1 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. She also has 46 assists and 18 steals. Oh, and she’s 69 points away from becoming Iowa State’s all-time scorer in program history. In the first meeting with Kansas State, she had 27 points and eight rebounds.
G Lexi Donarski: Iowa State has three players that have made at least 50 3-pointers this season. Joens is one of them. So is Ashley’s little sister, Aubrey. Donarski is the third. She’s actually the most accurate of the three, shooting better than 37 percent from the arc. Donarski averages 15.2 points and 3.2 rebounds this season, and she’s third on the team with 43 assists. When passers can’t find the Joenses, they’ll look for Donarski.
G Emily Ryan: You know she’s one of the best, if not the best, point guard in the Big 12. She averages 6.7 assists per game. She’s also tied or broken school records for most steals and most assists in a game. But, lately, Ryan is driving more to the hoop and taking her shot. She’s averaging 11.7 points. She’s also drawing fouls, which is good because she’s nearly an 86 percent free-throw shooter.
Despite that loss to Texas on the road last Wednesday, the AP voters kept Kansas State in the Top 25 for a second straight week. But the Wildcats are in the NCAA Tournament at this point. Last Thursday the NCAA’s Tournament Selection Committee had the Wildcats at No. 16 in its Top 16, a reflection that they believe the Wildcats are worthy of a Top 4 seed in a region. Now, there’s plenty of time for that seeding to change. But with Lee in the pivot and a solid group of young players around her, the Wildcats look like a lock for 20 or more wins and a threat to win the Big 12 Tournament next month.
The Cyclones remain one of the best teams in the country, and they responded after their two-game losing streak to Texas and Baylor by winning both games last week. As Joens chases history, the Cyclones are mindful of the fact that they remain in a position where they can control their own destiny in the Big 12 face. They’re tied at the top with Oklahoma, which plays Baylor on Wednesday, and the Bears have two losses, too. Iowa State still has to play both the Sooners and Bears again, along with the Longhorns. So everything is still in front of Iowa State as they fight for the conference’s regular-season title.
In their first meeting this season, Kansas State had an 11-point lead with 6:32 left in the game before Iowa State went on a 21-7 run to win the game.
Iowa State 78, Kansas State 72. Iowa State won’t need a huge run to win this one. Just a big night from Ashley Joens.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.