The Breakdown: Iowa State @ Kansas State

Chris Williams

Publisher

By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com Publisher

Iowa State (16-14, 3-12) @ Kansas State (21-9, 9-6) Saturday, March 5 * 12:45 p.m. @ Bramlage Coliseum Big 12 Network/ESPN 3 – Cyclone Radio Network

REMINDER: Our CycloneFanatic.com/Wilson Toyota of Ames postgame show on 1460 KXNO will take place on Saturday night at 6:30, following the Cyclone women's basketball game with Missouri. Tron Smith and I will be broadcasting LIVE from Es Tas Bar and Grill in Ames.

BREAKING DOWN THE CYCLONES

G: Diante Garrett, 6-4 Sr. – 17.2 PPG, 6.1 APG G: Jake Anderson, 6-2 Sr. – 12.3 PPG, 7.2 RPG G: Scott Christopherson, 6-3 Jr. – 14.2 PPG, 3.2 RPG F: Melvin Ejim, 6-6 Fr. – 10.7 PPG, 6.8 RPG F: Jamie Vanderbeken, 6-11 Sr. – 11.5 PPG, 5.6 RPG

I believe in karma. Good things happen to good people. Do things the right way and you will be rewarded in the end.

The basketball gods have been awfully fickle to Iowa State this season. The 2010-11 Cyclones are arguably the least talented team in the Big 12. They surely have the thinnest bench in the league. Iowa State has a first year head coach and let’s be honest, up until last Saturday, the Cyclones couldn’t catch a break. In six games this season, Iowa State has had the lead or been tied with under a minute to go, only to lose in the end.

Now, the Clones have won two straight basketball games while busting two bubbles along the way.

Is luck starting to change for this squad?

I’ll let the cat out of the bag right now and write that I don’t believe Iowa State will be Kansas State tomorrow. The Wildcats are too focused and if you haven't noticed, they're scorching hot.

Still, all season long, the Clones have been right there. The margin between wins and losses has been minuscule. For the first time in league play, Iowa State is healthy and they actually have some momentum. The Big 12 needs to be put on notice. You do NOT want to play these 12th-seeded Cyclones in Kansas City on Wednesday at 2 p.m.

ISU/Big 12 Tournament Scenarios

So I sat down to write out this massive Big 12 Tournament scenario piece for you Cyclone fanatics and I gave up. There are a million different things that can happen this weekend that would affect who Iowa State will play on Wednesday at 2 p.m. We know that for sure, as Iowa State has locked up the 12th seed, for the first time in Big 12 Tournament history.

Iowa State will likely end up playing Colorado, Baylor, Missouri or Nebraska in the first round. I doubt that it will be Nebraska though. Tomorrow would have to be a pretty nutty day in the league if that is going to happen.

From and Iowa State standpoint, I’d like to avoid Missouri if at all possible. A matchup against Colorado is appealing when you consider that Iowa State beat the Buffs on Wednesday night.

What has to happen for Iowa State to see Colorado in the first round? Missouri (vs. Kansas) and Baylor (vs. Texas) have to lose. Assuming that Iowa State loses to Kansas State and Colorado beats Nebraska, the Cyclones would play the Buffs in Kansas City, with Kansas State waiting in the second round.

Confused yet? So am I.

Diante Garrett record watch…

-       Assuming that nothing crazy goes down between now and 12:45 p.m. Saturday, Diante Garrett will play in his 127th game as a Cyclone. That will break Iowa State’s record for games played that currently sits at 126 and is held by Fred Hoiberg, Julius Michalik and Stevie Johnson.

-       More numbers to watch include: Garrett’s 600 assists tie him for second on Iowa State’s career list with Gary Thompkins (1985-88). Jeff Hornacek (1983-86) is the all-time assists leader at Iowa State, with 665.

-       Garrett is one of only three players in Big 12 history (Kirk Hinrich, Kansas and John Roberson, Texas Tech) to score 1,300 points and 600 assists in a career.

-       On Wednesday, Garrett jumped past Hornacek to No. 16 on Iowa State’s all-time scoring list, with 1,327 points.

BREAKING DOWN THE WILDCATS

Kansas State’s probable starters

G: Rodney McGruder, 6-5 So. – 11.6 PPG, 6.2 RPG G: Shane Southwell, 6-6 Fr. – 1.7 PPG, 2.0 RPG G: Jacob Pullen, 6-1 Sr. 19.7 PPG, 3.6 APG F: Jamar Samuels, 6-7 Jr. – 8.7 PPG, 5.2 RPG F: Curtis Kelly, 6-8 Sr. 9.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG

This season, Frank Martin has done one of the worst and best jobs of coaching in America. Confused? During the preseason, the Wildcats were picked by pretty much everybody to win the Big 12. After a flurry of suspensions, guys quitting the team and more drama, Kansas State came out of the gate and lost four of its first five league games. Since then, this has looked like the team everybody expected to see back in October. Martin’s Wildcats have now won five straight (seven of eight), including victories over Kansas and Texas (which was on the road).

Why the turnaround? That’s easy. Martin kept his team focused and all of the sudden, Jacob Pullen started playing like an All Big 12 first teamer. Remember that it was Pullen who led Kansas State to a win in Ames on Feb. 5. Iowa State had a four-point lead in that game with under a minute to play. Pullen scored the final five points of that contest and the Wildcats have been on cruise control ever since. Pullen leads Kansas State in scoring on the season with an average of 19.7 points per game.

Another Wildcat to keep an eye on Saturday is sophomore Rodney McGruder. He’s only averaging 11.6 points per game this season but has been red hot as of late. McGruder led Kansas State with 22 points in Monday’s road win over No. 8 Texas. He’s Kansas State’s best 3-point shooter, hitting 65 so far this season.

Did you know?

Kansas State assistant coach Delonte Hill is one of the best recruiters in all of college basketball. Hill played for Iowa State assistant coach Bobby Lutz at Charlotte from 1997-2000. He was also one of Lutz’s assistants from 2003-2005. Small world.

PREDICTION

Iowa State is playing well. But Kansas State is playing its best basketball of the season. I think that the Cyclones will keep this one close, but give me the Wildcats by 10.

THE PICK

Kansas State 85, Iowa State 75

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