Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State needs to out-tough Kansas State in top-25 matchup

Wildcats have won 9 conference games in a row since 0-2 start

Iowa State players huddle after a made basket against Baylor earlier this season at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. (Ray Carlin/USA TODAY Sports)
Iowa State players huddle after a made basket against Baylor earlier this season at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. (Ray Carlin/USA TODAY Sports)

AMES — Steve Prohm and his No. 22-ranked Iowa State men’s basketball team had a chip on their shoulder when they went to Lubbock, Texas, and beat then-No. 8 Texas Tech on Jan. 16.

That chip may have been worn away after Iowa State’s four-game winning streak, but after losing to TCU at Hilton Coliseum last Saturday, Prohm says the chip has returned.

Iowa State (18-6, 7-4 Big 12) travels to Manhattan, Kan., to play No. 18 Kansas State (19-5, 9-2) at 3 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2).

“We’re tough enough and resilient enough to play on the road,” Prohm said. “I like playing on the road. Outside of last year, we’ve been very successful playing on the road. I expect to play well on the road for the remainder of the year.”

The Cyclones are 4-3 on the road this season and the only game Iowa State lost by more than four points was at Iowa before the Cyclones had guard Lindell Wigginton back from injury.

While Iowa State has proven to be a tough team, so has Kansas State. The Wildcats dealt with an injury to their best player, Dean Wade, early in the conference season and now one of their lead guards, Cartier Diarra, is out indefinitely after hand surgery.

Diarra had come on strong for Kansas State over its last four games, scoring in double figures in each.

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“They’ll miss him for a variety of reasons — his toughness, ability to push the ball, ability to defend, he makes big shots, he brings an edge to them,” Prohm said. “That team has been through a lot. It is a big loss, there’s no question about it. But they have experienced toughness.”

Kansas State hasn’t lost a conference game since it started 0-2. In its third Big 12 game against West Virginia, the Wildcats actually trailed by 21 points before coming back and winning by two.

“They’ve won, and they’ve won at a high level,” Prohm said. “They’re playing really, really well right now, winning 8 of 9 and their only loss in that stretch was out of league to Texas A&M. They have great experience and they’re really good.”

Iowa State has struggled the most with defensive-minded teams like Kansas State, which won the first matchup with the Cyclones in Ames, 58-57. The 57 points is a season-low for Iowa State.

Guard Nick Weiler-Babb believes the Cyclones’ defense has to match the intensity of the Wildcats.

“That’s one thing we need to accept (is) defense is going to take us to the next level,” Weiler-Babb said. “They’re a tough team. It comes down to toughness. They have really experienced seniors and those are the guys who are taking the lead.”

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