Last season Wayne Morgan's club dug themselves a huge hole in the Big 12, starting 0-5, needing a memorable run to make the dance. They can't afford a similar start this season, as the schedule is more favorable to start Big 12 play. The Cyclones have had 10 days to rest for the opening of Big 12 conference play. Kansas State comes to town Saturday night.
The Wildcats are an odd group to
figure. On one hand they are 9-2 and have yet to lose at home. But, take a look
a closer look at their schedule and you quickly realize Wildcat coach Jim Wooldridge is an avid follower of the Bill Snyder guide to non-conference
schedules. The three most talented of opponents the Wildcats have played are
Colorado State (W 71-67) @Northern Illinois (L 70-75) @
Washington State (L 57-58). The two losses on the road have been the only times
the Cats have left the friendly confines of Bramlage Coliseum. No longer can
K-State feast on the likes of Belmont and
State to bolster their
The Cats lost both of their
leading scorers off of last year's team that finished 6-10 in the Big 12.
Jeremiah Massey and Fred Peete combined to average 31 points a year ago. In the
63-52 win over ISU in Manhattan last year these two combined for 38.
In that game Curtis Stinson was held to a season low 7 points. In the other
match-up last season the Cyclones defense played its best game of the season
allowing a splendid 42 points.
This season K-State is led by 6'7
junior forward Cartier Martin, who is averaging 19.6 points per game, the best
in the Big 12. Martin is a tough man to guard. Not only is he hitting 45 percent
of his 3's and 85 percent from the line, Martin is also the leading rebounder on
K-State (7.5). However, in his appearance in Ames last year Martin was held to 2 points.
The second leading scorer is Davis
Hoskins a 6'5 sophomore swing man. Hoskins puts up 13.7 points a game. Hoskins
is a transfer from Central Michigan. Despite
being listed as a guard, Hoskins is 0-2 from three-point land. He does most of
his damage with penetration and also is a skilled offensive rebounder. 6'5 guard
Lance Harris is the only other Cat to average in double-figures at 12.8. The
Wildcats don't have a real lost-post scoring threat. The other starters are 6'4
guard Clent Stewart (5 PPG) and 6'8 forward Dramane Diarra (3.5 PPG). Stewart is
more of a table setter than a scorer and Diarra is there to play defense. His
low-post moves definitely won't blow you away.
JUCO transfers Mario Taybron (6'2)
and Akeem Wright (6'6) will get significant minutes off the bench, each
averaging 6.2 points per game. Other than Taybron and Wright, the K-State bench
is pretty limited. 6'11 center Tyler Hughes provides some girth and defense. 6'4
guard Curtis Allen will also play sparingly.
The key for Iowa State is shaking off the rust. They
clearly have the superior talent and match-up well at most positions. Finding
Cartier Martin at all times and not letting Lance Harris have open looks is the
main thing they have to do to be successful. K-State moves the ball well
averaging over 18 assists per game, but the ISU zone should create some problems
for the Cats. K-State has athletes to run with Iowa State, but not the skill.
The Wildcats under Wooldridge have
been known for their pressure defense and they will run a bunch of rangy guards
at Stinson and Blalock in attempt to fluster the ISU backcourt. If Iowa State can take care of the ball, and get
some contribution from the inside game, they shouldn't have too much difficulty.
But, K-State has the ability to jump you if you don't bring full concentration.
The Wildcats have several streaky shooters that can change the complexion of a
game. This will be the 200th meeting between the two schools; KSU
leads the series 124-75.Wayne Morgan is seeking his 50th win at
Prediction: Iowa State 71