Iowa State faces Kansas State with both teams struggling to find wins in conference play

Tyrese Haliburton surveys the court against No. 1 Baylor on Jan. 29.

Zane Douglas

After an onslaught of high level teams, Iowa State catches a break on Saturday.

Iowa State and Kansas State will face off at 7 p.m. Saturday in Hilton Coliseum with each team desperately needing a win.

“The best thing about the first half of the schedule is that it’s over with,” sophomore guard Tyrese Haliburton said. “You move on and then you get ready for the second half.”

The Cyclones come into the game on a four-game losing streak. They have also lost nine of their last 11 games. Kansas State hasn’t been much better as the Wildcats have lost two games in a row and have fallen in eight of their last 10.

The matchup Sunday will end one losing streak and it will also give one of the teams double-digit wins — Iowa State and Kansas State sit at 9-13 overall.

For the Cyclones, they’ve been relying on Haliburton all season, but teams have picked up on the strategy and focused their defenses on the Oshkosh, Wisconsin, native.

“It’s just something that we should be used to by now,” Haliburton said. “[…] I don’t think there’s much to lose at this point, so [I’ll] play with as much confidence as I can and I’m gonna play hard.”

“Give my teammates and this university everything I got.”

Recent lineup changes have happened to attempt to combat the stagnant offense, but Haliburton has only been able to consistently rely on fellow sophomore guard Rasir Bolton.

The Cyclones have switched out redshirt senior guard Prentiss Nixon for freshman guard Tre Jackson to give the team shooting help. Iowa State has also made changes down low with every post player getting a varied sum of minutes on a game-by-game basis.

The changes have been made by Coach Steve Prohm and last game, he made another — replacing forward George Conditt for Solomon Young.

Young had a poor shooting game, but Prohm said he thinks Young can turn that around.

“This is a game I think our front court can do well,” Prohm said. “We gotta challenge them to max out.”

The team is young and Prohm knows this. Prohm said that he wants to end this season like West Virginia did last season. He wants to finish strong and propel the momentum into next season.

Not only did West Virginia finish strong last season, but without the help of many of its top contributors, the Mountaineers beat Texas Tech — the future NCAA Tournament runner-up — during the Big 12 Tournament.

That’s the energy that Prohm wants his players to play with as the season comes to a close.

“2-7, 9-13, whatever, that doesn’t define me, that shouldn’t define you by the way we carry ourselves by the way we handle ourselves by the way we interact with people, by the way we represent this school,” Prohm said. “It can change quickly. We’ve shown that before in the past, West Virginia showed that from last year to this year.”

With a relative dip in the schedule coming, the Cyclones will have a tough road ahead of them if they want this season to continue past the Big 12 Tournament.

A 2-7 conference record is a rough start, but Iowa State is only halfway through conference play and five of its remaining nine games are against bottom five teams in the conference.