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Staff Picks: No. 7 Kansas State, No. 5 Texas

Audi+Crooks+shoots+at+the+top+of+the+key+at+the+Iowa+State+vs.+Oklahoma+game+in+Hilton+Coliseum%2C+Feb.+10%2C+2024.
Maeley Rosengren
Audi Crooks shoots at the top of the key at the Iowa State vs. Oklahoma game in Hilton Coliseum, Feb. 10, 2024.

Pavle Markovic, Sports Reporter

No. 7 Kansas State 68, Iowa State 59

After suffering their first home conference loss this season, which also brought them into a two-game losing streak, the Cyclones are yet again left in limbo as their season continues to crumble with potentially no end in sight. The Cyclones have now lost five of their last six games, and have fallen into fifth place in the Big 12.

Now Iowa State gets to host its second-straight home game but has to take on No. 7 Kansas State. The Wildcats sit in second place in the Big 12 with their 10-2 conference record and have been mainly led by their superstar center Ayoka Lee.

One blazing question that could prove to be a big factor in this clash Wednesday night will be the availability of Kansas State’s center. Lee underwent ankle surgery nearly a month ago and has been out of action since Jan. 13 when the Wildcats barely took down a then-No. 10 Texas team.

Kansas State has stayed afloat and competed despite Lee’s absence but has also taken its first two conference losses without her. Those two losses came against Oklahoma and Texas on the road, where the Wildcats have not played their best (3-2 record on the road).

Regardless of whether the Wildcats’ star center is available Wednesday night, I do believe that Iowa State will have not enough answers for a Kansas State team that is looking to get back atop the Big 12 before the end of the season.

No. 5 Texas 79, Iowa State 68

Following its matchup with the Wildcats, Iowa State travels to Austin, Texas, to take on No. 5 Texas. With this matchup against the Longhorns, it will be the first time this season the Cyclones will take on back-to-back teams in the top 10.

Texas sits at third in the Big 12 with a 9-3 record, which means Iowa State will have faced the top three teams in the conference in the span of eight days.

The Longhorns will be led by forward Madison Booker, who averages 15.5 points per game, despite playing the point guard role. Booker was forced to play a similar role to Iowa State’s Addy Brown, where a forward was used at the point guard position, but this was not expected before the season.

Texas’ main point guard Rori Harmon suffered an injury before the new year, which left a hole for the Longhorns that Booker ended up filling. Booker helped lead Texas to the top of the Big 12 in offense, as the Longhorns are averaging a league-high 83 points per game while shooting nearly 50% from the field.

Also, barring a matchup in the Big 12 Tournament in March, this will most likely be the last time these two programs face off against each other in the conference. I have Iowa State losing its final game against Texas and continuing the Cyclones’ slide during a critical part of their season.

Brett Twelmeyer, Sports Reporter

No. 7 Kansas State 69, Iowa State 57

Iowa State is in a rough spot right now. The Cyclones were handed their biggest Big 12 loss Saturday against Oklahoma, and it happened at home.

Now, enter No. 7 Kansas State. Second place in the Big 12, the Wildcats have been nothing short of dominant this season, boasting a 21-3 record with all three losses being either road or neutral site rematches against ranked teams.

The losses came against Iowa, Oklahoma and Texas all by seven points or less. The Oklahoma and Texas losses came within Kansas State’s past three games, with the most recent game being a one-point win at home against Oklahoma State.

Lee has been absent for the past six games for Kansas State with an ankle injury but could return Wednesday to play the Cyclones. Lee still averages the most points per game for the Wildcats with 19.8 per game, meaning Audi Crooks could have some stiff competition if Lee returns.

Even if Lee does not return, the defense from Kansas State will likely be too much for the struggling Cyclones. The Wildcats’ defense is the highlight of the team, giving up just 54.3 points per game, 13.2 less than Iowa State’s defensive average.

I think Kansas State will prove to be too much for Iowa State and another home setback will happen.

No. 5 Texas 76, Iowa State 63

No. 5 Texas will be the fourth top-10 team Iowa State will face this season. The first three games were at home while this one will be on the road.

The Cyclones have lost four road games in a row, and that total could rise to five in what may be the final chapter of Iowa State versus Texas before the Longhorns move to the SEC next season. Add that to a Texas winning streak that has now reached four games, and the Cyclones could be in trouble.

Texas’ winning streak includes a road win over Baylor followed by upsetting Kansas State at home. The Longhorns beat an injury-ridden TCU squad by 22 Saturday and will be at Houston on Wednesday before hosting Iowa State.

Texas has the largest scoring margin of all the Big 12 schools at 26, scoring 83 points per game and giving up 57 per game. The Longhorns are the only Big 12 team to average more than 80 points per game and one of three teams that gives up less than 60 per game.

With four players averaging over 10 points per game, scoring is as easy as breathing for Texas.

This is another tough game for Iowa State, and I don’t see it going the Cyclones’ way. The harder games late in the season will not help the Cyclones make a case for the NCAA Tournament if they keep resulting in losses.

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