Men’s, women’s basketball teams prepare to face Kansas State

Amanda Ouverson

Inspiration won’t be hard for the ISU men’s basketball team to find when Kansas State strolls into Hilton Coliseum Wednesday. In the two teams’ first meeting on Feb. 11, the Wildcats handed Iowa State a humiliating 90-59 loss.

“It gives us a lot of motivation,” ISU senior Jake Sullivan said. “There were comments [from Kansas State players] after the game about beating us that bad that I think some of us took personally. I know it’s a game I’m definitely ready for.”

Sullivan said he was referring to KSU players who said they were surprised they beat a Big 12 team by 31 points and that they never thought it would happen.

Freshman Will Blalock said the Cyclones will try to redeem themselves in front of the home crowd, where they are 13-1 this season.

“The coaching staff really told us that if it really means anything to us, we’ve got to go out and punish them here, so that’s what we’ve got to come out and do,” Blalock said.

Both teams are coming off losses — Iowa State (14-9, 5-7 Big 12) suffered a heartbreaking 90-89 overtime loss to Kansas, and Kansas State (12-11, 4-8) dropped a 72-62 decision to Colorado.

Wildcats head coach Jim Wooldridge said Kansas State has started to turn the corner and has been playing better since a 62-53 loss to Missouri on Jan. 31.

“We’ve had six games since that point, and [we’re] 3-3 in those games,” Wooldridge said during Monday’s Big 12 teleconference. “There have been some very positive signs that we were moving forward, and that’s made it easier for all of us to feel that success is around the corner. We’re still confident that, if we can get players healthy and keep improving, we can be a successful team down the stretch.”

ISU head coach Wayne Morgan said the Wildcats have improved throughout the season, and the earlier contest will be incentive for the Cyclones to come out and perform well.

“Kansas State is a team that has worked hard all year,” Morgan said. “They obviously gave us our worst defeat of the year, and hopefully that gives us motivation to come in here and meet that challenge.”

Seniors Tim Ellis and Jarrett Hart will be a focal point for the Cyclone defense, along with junior Jeremiah Massey.

“[Kansas State is] good; they have a lot of senior leadership, so that helps them out,” Blalock said. “They shoot really well, so we’ve got to defend.”

Hart led Kansas State with 21 points, Ellis added 18 and Massey had 20 points and 12 rebounds in the first matchup between the two teams.

Sullivan said Kansas State did a good job of countering the Cyclones’ zone.

“We didn’t play well defensively that night, but their coach is as good of an offensive coach as you’re going to find running that triangle [offense],” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said guarding the triangle requires a team to be defensively disciplined, and Iowa State was caught off guard by Kansas State running its triangle offense against the Cyclones’ zone.

With the regular season winding down, Iowa State is still jockeying for seeding position in the Big 12 tournament and vying for postseason consideration.

“It’s a little four-game season we have to be ready for right now,” Sullivan said. “We have to win these last four.”