When Iowa State got out to an 0-2 start to open its season, questions about the Cyclones taking a step back started to fly. What the Cyclones have done since is what fans have come to expect: win, and win often.
The Cyclones will put their nine-game winning streak on the line tonight at 8 p.m. inside Hilton Coliseum as they open Big 12 play against Kansas State.
“We’ve fought through adversity,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said. “I’ve told the guys all season long we probably weren’t supposed to be 9-2 if you talk to a lot of people.”
A victory tonight would give the Cyclones their longest win streak since Prohm began as head coach and it would also match the third-longest in program history. But the Cyclones know that now it’s time for Big 12 play, there’s no gimmies on the schedule, even at home.
Six of the 10 teams in the Big 12 are currently ranked in the AP Top 25 poll, and two more are receiving votes. The only two outside that mix: Iowa State (9-2) and Kansas State (10-2). That doesn’t mean either is a slouch, though.
“We’ve got to be super focused,” Iowa State freshman Lindell Wigginton said. “All the teams are great in our league, and we’ve just got to come out with a chip on our shoulders and try to beat the best teams.”
What Kansas State brings into Hilton Coliseum is an experienced team that has learned how to win in the Big 12.
Anchored by four key returners, the Wildcats have shown a penchant for scoring as they average 77 points per game. All four of those guys — Barry Brown, Kamau Stokes, Dean Wade and Xavier Sneed — average in double figures.
Brown leads the way at 14.4 points per game, Stokes is at 14.2, Wade at 13.2 and comes in at 11.6.
“They’ve got four returning guys who are kind of the catalyst of their team,” Prohm said. “Stokes is an all-league type guard, Brown is very good, I think Snead has made improvement, and then Wade is an all-league type player as well.
“They play with great toughness on the defensive end. Offensively, they’re shooting the basketball well this year from 3. It’ll be our toughest challenge to date, and I’m looking forward to our guys to respond and meet the challenge.”
Iowa State has leaned on its guard trio of Nick Weiler-Babb, Donovan Jackson and Wigginton to turn around its early season struggles. The trio is averaging a combined 44.2 points per game, which is 58.5 percent of ISU's total points. They've posted all 11 of ISU's 20-point games, and Wigginton and Weiler-Babb have five of the team's seven double-doubles this season.
“This is what you come to college for — to play in one of the best conferences in college basketball, and you can’t ask for anything more than to be on TV playing against great competition,” Weiler-Babb said.