Ames, IA (Sports Network) - The Iowa State Cyclones attempt to close out their home slate in style, as they welcome the 13th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys to Hilton Coliseum for a Big 12 Conference showdown on Wednesday night.
Since losing a double-overtime classic to nationally-ranked Kansas on Feb. 20, Oklahoma State has won three straight games, most recently dismissing Texas last Saturday at home, 78-65. The Cowboys are now winners of 10 of their last 11 since late January to improve to 22-6 overall, but at 12-4 in conference, a game and a half out of first place with two games to play, the regular-season conference title appears out of reach.
Iowa State is sitting at 19-10 overall and considered to be situated on the bubble for an NCAA Tournament selection, but it has done itself no favors lately with back-to-back losses, including an 86-69 setback at Oklahoma this past Saturday. The Cyclones have been outstanding on their home floor however, as their only loss in 16 matchups at Hilton Coliseum came against first-place Kansas on Feb. 25 in overtime, 108-96.
Oklahoma State edged out Iowa State in Stillwater on Jan. 30, 78-76, to improve to 63-53 in the all-time series. The Cowboys have now won six of the last seven meeting versus the Cyclones.
Despite falling behind by eight points to Texas early in its latest game, Oklahoma State carried a six-point lead into intermission and never surrendered that advantage in the second half. The Cowboys made greater than 51 percent of their field goal attempts and were paced by the efforts of Markel Brown, who poured in 18 points while draining all nine of his free- throw attempts. Le'Bryan Nash netted 16 points, Phil Forte scored 14 points off the bench, and Marcus Smart finished with 11 points, six rebounds and fours steals.
On the season, OSU has been strong at both the offensive (72.6 ppg) and defensive (61.2 ppg) ends of the court, as only Kansas boasts a better scoring margin in the Big 12 than its +11.4 mark. Brown is the squad's top scorer with 15.7 ppg, but the biggest difference-maker is arguably Smart, who makes his presence felt all over the floor with 14.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 4.3 apg, 2.9 spg and even 0.8 bpg. Nash (13.9 ppg) also has the potential for high point totals, while Forte rounds out the unit's double-digit performers with 10.8 ppg, thanks to a team-best 62 3-pointers.
Despite shooting a respectable 43.1 percent from the floor with 11 3-pointers, Iowa State was ultimately no match for Oklahoma, as the Sooners took advantage of the Cyclones' foul troubles by shooting an astonishing 34-of-34 from the foul line (tying an NCAA record for most made free throws without a miss). Tyrus McGee was great off the bench for ISU, shooting 6-of-9 from 3-point range for 22 points. Bubu Palo (12 points) was also solid in a reserve role, while Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang each tallied 10 points.
The Cyclones have the Big 12's top scoring offense (79.7 ppg) primarily due to their prowess from 3-point range, as they have not only drained 288 treys (76 more than the closest team), but they make them at a league-best 37.2 percent clip. Leading one of the best six-man rotations in the nation is Will Clyburn, who nets 14.6 ppg to go along with 7.1 rpg. Ejim is one of the conference's top big men with 10.8 ppg and a league-high 9.4 rpg, while Korie Lucious (10.0 ppg) dishes out 5.6 apg. Also putting together impressive seasons are McGee (13.8 ppg), Georges Niang (11.5 ppg) and Chris Babb (9.3 ppg).