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Audi Crooks vs. Ayoka Lee round two awaits, Iowa State to battle No. 15 Kansas State

Audi+Crooks+blocking+the+ball+vs.+BYU+in+Hilton+Coliseum+on+Feb.+24%2C+2024.+
Katarina Kotek
Audi Crooks blocking the ball vs. BYU in Hilton Coliseum on Feb. 24, 2024.

When Iowa State upset then-No. 7, now-No. 15 Kansas State in double overtime, it started the second-wind act that has fueled the Cyclones.

Iowa State has won three of its last four games after the theoretical “wall” stopped the strong start in its tracks. The wins have come at a crucial time, with the postseason right around the corner.

“Next week we start the Big 12 Tournament, so it’s kind of coming to an end, and we only have so much time left to show what kind of team we are,” freshman Arianna Jackson said.

Kansas State will not only seek revenge over Iowa State, but it will look to get back in the win column. The Wildcats lost on the road to Kansas on Sunday.

The loss dropped Kansas State to 12-4 and third in the Big 12 standings, while Iowa State sits fifth at 10-6.

The rematch with Kansas State is a big one, and if it plays out anything like the last game, everyone will be in for a treat. The first game proved how unpredictable the Big 12 can be and how important home games are.

“Anything can happen in one game,” senior Emily Ryan said. “We’re not playing a seven-game series or anything, so we really embrace that mentality and just show up and play our game.”

The Cyclones and Wildcats played Feb. 14, which means the rematch will come exactly two weeks after the thriller from Hilton Coliseum. That quick turnaround means both teams got a strong taste of what is to come Wednesday.

“Because we just played them, we know how good they are,” Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly said. “There’s a familiarity there of at least we know what we’re getting into. They’re such a good defensive team, and they do so many good things offensively.”

The Wildcats are highlighted by senior Ayoka Lee, who returned to action from an injury the last time the two faced off. It was Lee versus Iowa State freshman Audi Crooks inside all night.

Crooks and Lee went bar-for-bar with each other all the way through both overtimes. A 20-point night for each tied the highest point total in the game with Iowa State freshman Addy Brown and Kansas State’s Serena Sundell as well.

“Coming in, we know it’s going to be a physical and competitive game,” Jackson said. “We just have to play our game and come in focused and ready to go.”

The big rematch will start at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Manhattan, Kansas, and will be streamed live on ESPN+.

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