It’s been some time since Kansas State won at Iowa State.
The Wildcats last walked out of Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa winners in February 2011, when Jacob Pullen sprayed home two triples, Will Spradling canned four of his own and Nick Russell threaded three.
The silver lining for the Wildcats? The storyline was much the same heading into their road matchup with Oklahoma State last week — K-State had won there just twice since 1993.
And they won that game.
K-State will try to erase another forgettable stretch of road losses when the Wildcats and Cyclones tip off at 8 p.m. Tuesday in Ames.
The visitors will have momentum on their side when they do so. K-State (15-4, 4-3 Big 12) is two days removed from a 79-75 win over then-No. 7 West Virginia, when all five starters scored in double figures and Barry Brown sealed things with a steal and layup in the final 20 seconds.
That, on top of last week’s road win over the Cowboys, has engendered momentum for a K-State team in the midst of what could have been a disastrous stretch.
“It’s so hard (to string wins together in the Big 12). It’s so unforgiving,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said Saturday. “They’ve got to be smart, because we play Tuesday at Iowa State, and now you go there and get a win, it’s huge for us.
“But it’s one at a time. That’s all we can really worry about right now.”
That one, however has arrived. And the Cyclones (12-6, 4-3) will carry no baggage into Tuesday’s meeting.
Iowa State dispatched Oklahoma on Saturday in double overtime, a game that saw Cyclone forward Deonte Burton tally 31 points in his team’s second Big 12 road win this season.
But Burton may not be K-State’s primary concern. The Wildcats will also hone in on Monte Morris, a guard who plays roughly 34 minutes a game and who paces the team with 16.1 points per game, to accompany 5.1 rebounds per game and six assists per game.
Throw guard Naz Mitrou-Long and his 16.1 points a game in the mix, and you’ve got an Iowa State club capable of snagging road wins against Jordan Woodard and the Sooners and coming within a few points of knocking off No. 2 Kansas, like the Cyclones did Jan. 16.
“Every game is a big game, especially in this conference,” K-State guard Kamau Stokes said Saturday.
Perhaps that’s how the Wildcats have snared the two-straight wins they have — and Stokes has played an irreplaceable role in doing so, somewhat surprising at first given his ankle tweak at Oklahoma State.
But the sophomore responded with 15 points on Saturday, Brown posted 15 as well, D.J. Johnson registered 14 and Dean Wade and Wesley Iwundu each logged 13 — all an emblem of the scintillating versatility Weber has long lauded and the Wildcats have used time and again.
Still the lone Big 12 team featuring five players averaging double-figures in points, they’ll likely need to employ such versatility again Tuesday night.
“We’ve got to keep pushing. You’ve got to keep pushing and you’ve got to constantly fight your way up,” Stokes said.
Tuesday night’s tilt could go a ways in deciding the league race, too. A win would lift K-State alone to third place, as the Wildcats are knotted with Iowa State and West Virginia for the third slot currently.
But first comes Tuesday night’s game, and after dropping road contests in narrow affairs at Kansas and Texas Tech, K-State knows better than anyone in the league not to take games lightly.
At least, that’s what Stokes said.
Said Stokes on Saturday: “You can’t take any games for granted.”
Matchup to Watch: Dean Wade and Deonte Burton
They’re awfully similar players. At 6-10, Wade has five inches on Burton, but both can shoot the mid-range jumper and 3-pointer, and both have the body to back defenders down and work on the block. The lefty Burton is far less of a distributor than Wade, but the former is coming off a 21-point effort against Kansas and a 31-point outing against Oklahoma, so the onus will be on Burton and his scoring prowess, at least in part, to propel Iowa State to a win.
The flip side, of course, is that if Wade can limit Burton’s scoring outburst, the Wildcats — to use a Weber platitude — will give themselves a chance to win.
K-State at Iowa State
Date: Tuesday, Jan. 24
Time: 8 p.m. CT
Radio: Sirius 81, XM 81, K-State Sports Network