After Bad Loss, Now's The Time For Iowa State To Make Run

By Rob Gray, Reporter

Iowa State Cyclones head coach Fred Hoiberg watches the action on the floor during the first half an NCAA college basketball game against the Iowa Hawkeyes Friday, Dec. 7, 2012 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. (Brian Ray/The Gazette-KCRG)

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By Grant Burkhardt

AMES, Iowa — If there’s a run to be spun, it must start soon.

Iowa State enters Saturday’s pivotal 12:45 p.m. Big 12 game against No. 11 Kansas State hungry for a signature win.

Are the Wildcats (15-3, 4-1) just what the RPI ordered?

“You’ve got a great opportunity,” said Cyclone coach Fred Hoiberg, whose team (13-5, 3-2) seeks to erase any ill effects lingering from Wednesday’s loss at Texas Tech. “That’s a great thing about this business, you get a great opportunity like this and I anticipate Hilton Coliseum will be rocking Saturday.”

As usual.

ISU — which swept K-State last season by a total of six points — has won 17 straight games at home.

That number ranks ninth nationally in terms of active streaks.

“We’ve got to win,” said Cyclone guard Chris Babb, who expects to draw Wildcats’ leading scorer Rodney McGruder again on defense. “It’s a home game. You’ve got to win at home.”

The Cyclones also have enjoyed their best shooting performances of the season, by and large, in Hilton.

They’ve shot 44 percent or better in 8-of-10 home games.

Their two worst shooting efforts — 33 percent and 35 percent — came at UNLV and Tech.

“I think (at Lubbock) we kind of got away from our motion offense that had been successful for us,” said Babb, who held McGruder to 34 percent shooting last season. “So I think we’re going to get back to that. Keep the floor spread. Look to drive and kick. Just make simple plays.”

Even explosive and accurate sixth man Tyrus McGee has struggled lately, making just four of his last 19 from long range.

“A good shooter has a bad memory,” said McGee, who still ranks second in the Big 12 at 44 percent from beyond the arc.

A win would allow the Cyclones to jump to at least a tie for fourth place in the league standings through one-third of the schedule.

It also would be ISU’s first win over a ranked team this season and serve as a robust resume booster come March.

“You’re always going to have an opportunity to come back after a disappointing game like (Wednesday’s) and redeem yourself,” Cyclone forward Melvin Ejim said. “Guys are going to be amped up and ready to play.”

Cue the bumps and bruises.

The Wildcats may have a new coach in Bruce Weber, but they play the same way.

“We’ve got to get ready to be physical,” McGee said. “Because (today) is going to be real physical.”

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