Here is everything you need to know about the Iowa State Cyclones and the Kansas State Wildcats in our Iowa State vs. Kansas State Big 12 men’s basketball preview.
1 p.m. Central Time, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan, Kansas.
Records: Iowa State: 19-9 (6-9 in Big 12); Kansas State: 14-13 (6-9 in Big 12).
Ranking: Iowa State: None; Kansas State: None.
Last game: Iowa State: def. West Virginia, 84-81 (Feb. 23); Kansas State: lost to Kansas, 102-83 (Feb. 22).
Previous meeting: Kansas State 75, Iowa State 69 (Feb. 12).
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G Izaiah Brockington: Well, sometimes, you just need your star to carry you, right? That’s what Brockington did on Wednesday night as the Cyclones beat the Mountaineers by three points. Brockington had an enormous game — 35 points — and he played nearly the entire game do to it. Big games are nothing new to the senior, but that was his season high for the Cyclones, and it came at a time in which Iowa State is trying to solidify its credentials for the NCAA Tournament. With that effort, Brockington is averaging 18 points per game.
G Markquis Nowell: There is plenty of talk about Nijel Pack and that is justified. But Nowell’s presence has made Pack’s life a lot easier this season. Plus, on nights like Tuesday, when Kansas made slowing Pack a point of emphasis, Nowell can pick up the slack. He led the Wildcats with 20 points against the Jayhawks. But, when the Wildcats are firing, it’s because Nowell is setting up the offense for Pack, Mark Smith and the rest of the rotation. He averages 5.1 assists per game, to go along with 12.4 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. Pairing the junior with Pack for at least one more season is a tantalizing thought.
The Cyclones have some built-in credibility when it comes to the NCAA Tournament, with its eight Quad 1 wins and its 12-0 start to the season. But Iowa State has reinforced that by winning its last three games and putting itself in a position to win 20 games under first-year coach T.J. Otzelberger. The fact that ISU has won two of those last three games by a 3-point field goal shows some maturation on the team’s part. While Brockington has been the team’s best offensive player all season, freshman guard Tyrese Hunter is the program’s future and he’s entering a part of the season where his play shows maturity and looks less like a true freshman.
Kansas State ran into a buzzsaw against Kansas on Tuesday. The Jayhawks shot 64 percent from the field. That’s nearly impossible to overcome. The Wildcats did manage to shoot nearly 50 percent and score 83 points. In a ‘normal’ Big 12 game, that can win the Wildcats two or three games down the stretch. And, according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, the Wildcats need to win two of their last three games to even entertain the idea of reaching the NCAA Tournament. The stretch is key to the Wildcats’ Big 12 Tournament seeding, too. Entering the weekend the Wildcats are in sixth place in the Big 12.
The Cyclones have lost their last four games to the Wildcats. But that’s not the longest Iowa State losing streak in the series. You have to go back ALL the way to the Great Depression, when the Cyclones lost six straight from Feb. 10, 1928, to Jan. 20, 1931.
Kansas State 68, Iowa State 62. The Wildcats are the more desperate team. The Cyclones have some wiggle room. K-State doesn’t. I expect the Wildcats to figure out a way.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.