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Basketball

The Breakdown: Kansas State @ Iowa State

By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com Publisher

The Iowa State men’s basketball team desperately needs something positive to happen on Saturday afternoon. The Cyclones looked solid during the first half against Baylor on Wednesday. The Bears then outscored Iowa State 46-29 in the second half.

How much fight is left in this Cyclone team? Do they have a shot to upset 10th ranked Kansas State?

Let’s break it down.

Breaking down the Wildcats

One of the biggest critiques that fans have had about this year’s Iowa State team is the guard play. That has been the least of Frank Martin’s problems in Manhattan over the course of this season.

Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente run the show for Kansas State and both are very, very good. Pullen leads the team in scoring averaging 19 points per game while Clemente averages 15. Pullen’s mark is the second-best scoring average in the Big 12 and he’s also the league’s second-best 3-point shooter, averaging 3.0 long balls per game. Pullen has scored in double digits every game this year.

Expect Kansas State to outrebound the Cyclones on Saturday. The Wildcats are the league’s fourth best rebounding team with a +6.1 margin on the year. They also force 17.6 turnovers a game, a number that is best in the Big 12.

Breaking down the Cyclones

Iowa State needs a win right now in the worst way. There’s that whole losing streak against ranked opponents that I could write about but that’s already been beaten to death.

How does Iowa State pull off the upset on Saturday? That’s what diehard Cyclones should be concerned about.

To me, they have to rebound the basketball. Second chance looks for the opposition have doomed Iowa Sate all season long. The Cyclones gave up 11 second half offensive rebounds to Baylor on Wednesday.

In the end, it all comes down to Craig Brackins. How involved will he be in the offense? Can Brackins and Marquis Gilstrap both have big games? Most importantly, if Iowa State wants to pull off the upset, the guards need to get them the ball early and often.

Iowa State used to dominate Kansas State in Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones had won seven-straight against Kansas State from the year 200-2006. KSU has won the last three meetings. Greg McDermott has yet to beat Kansas State during his tenure at Iowa State.

Prediction

Iowa State will come out and play hard. I don’t doubt that this team wants to win. A handful of reasons have put this team at a 2-5 hole in the Big 12 Conference.

I really think that the home crowd will spark the Cyclones in the first half. They could even have a lead after the first 20 minutes. In the end, Kansas State’s guard combination of Pullen-Clemente will be too much.

The Pick

Kansas State 80, Iowa State 73