Cyclones working to keep momentum going against Wildcats

Izaiah Brockington throws down a dunk against West Virginia on Feb. 22

James Powell

It was a full-on collapse in Hilton Coliseum the last time Iowa State faced the Kansas State Wildcats.

The Cyclones went up by as many as 15 points against Kansas State in the second half, but ended up losing by six in overtime to the Wildcats after Iowa State shot just 32 percent in the second half and 28 percent in overtime.

Since then, however, the Cyclones’ second halves have looked measurably better, and the momentum has been climbing.

In their past three games, they have averaged 40 points on 56 percent shooting and 51 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes. More importantly for T.J. Otzelberger and his squad, all three games resulted in wins.

The Cyclones ride a three-game win streak and currently sit at 6-9 in the Big 12 with three games to play. They’ve leapfrogged West Virginia, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in the Big 12 standings and currently sit tied for sixth.

A team they’re tied with is Kansas State, who they travel to face Saturday.

The Wildcats were the source of demise for Iowa State in Ames on Feb. 12, and it put the Cyclones at 3-9 in the conference as they found themselves in the doghouse of the Big 12.

Kansas State has lost their last two games, losing to Kansas and Oklahoma State on the road. Before that they had won four of five including that game against the Cyclones.

Iowa State surely did not get out to the start they were hoping for in conference play. It was a byproduct of playing the bulk of their schedule against the top-half of the league and not finding a true identity on offense consistently enough to win games.

In their past three victories, their offense has been humming and it’s all centered around one guy: Izaiah Brockington.

Brockington has put up 20, 22 and a career-high 35 points in his team’s last three games. The final two of his 35-point barrage may have been the biggest, as he stole an in-bounds pass and put his team in front in the dwindling seconds against West Virginia.

It hasn’t just been Brockington, however.

Against TCU, Tyrese Hunter put up 15 points and poured in 14 against Oklahoma. Gabe Kalscheur came to the rescue late and put up a total of 17 points against the Mountaineers.

With the renaissance on offense, the Cyclones have tried to put to bed some of the negative feelings that came with blowing the big lead against Kansas State.

Come Saturday, they’ll have a chance to make it a distant memory.

It won’t be a cakewalk, however. The Wildcats are 9-5 at home this season and defeated Texas Tech in Manhattan, Kan., on Jan. 15. They are led on offense by Nijel Pack, who averages 17.3 points per game and put up 19 on the Cyclones earlier this year.

Iowa State has managed to pick up season splits against five Big 12 teams this season. They’ve been swept already by Kansas but have a chance to sweep Oklahoma State later this season and split with Baylor in their regular season finale.

They’ll aim to pick up a sixth split and fourth consecutive Big 12 win as the season winds down and teams begin jockeying for position for the Big 12 Tournament.

The Cyclones and Wildcats tip off at 1 p.m. Saturday from Manhattan, Kan. The game can be seen on ESPNU.