Surging clubs do battle, as Auburn visits Iowa State

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Updated: 12/02/2013 9:39 am

Ames, IA ( - The Iowa State Cyclones will attempt to remain unbeaten on Monday night when they take on the Auburn Tigers as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge at Hilton Coliseum.

After a dreadful 9-23 campaign in 2012-13, Auburn has opened up the new season in impressive fashion by winning four of its first five games, all of which came at home. The Tigers are currently riding a three-game winning streak, having most recently downed Tennessee State on Nov. 26, 78-73.

Iowa State did not begin the season in Top 25, but it has made a splash on the national scene in the early going with an undefeated start, including its signature win coming at home on Nov. 17 against then-No. 7 Michigan, 77-70. After another strong win on the road at BYU on Nov. 20 (90-88), the Cyclones returned home on Nov. 25 to dismiss UMKC, 110-51. Their No. 17 ranking is their highest since the 2000-2001 season.

The all-time series is tied, 1-1, with Iowa State winning most recently in the second round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament, 79-70.

The Tigers failed to pull away from Tennessee State their last time out, as they never led by double figures, but they held on to the advantage for the entire second half thanks to solid field-goal (23-of-49) and free-throw (30- of-37) shooting performances. Pacing four players in double figures was Chris Denson with 17 points on 4-of-9 from the field and 9-of-10 from the foul line. Tahj Shamsid-Deen added 16 points, while KT Harrell and Allen Payne scored 14 and 13, respectively. Auburn has had no problems scoring this season, as it drains nearly 46 percent of its field goal tries for 79.8 points per game, 8.0 points more than it allows. The squad as a great one-two punch in Denson (20.8 ppg) and Harrell (17.4 ppg), although neither are shooting greater than 30 percent from 3-point range. Shamsid-Deen (9.0 ppg) has 17 assists to just eight turnovers.

The Cyclones were nothing short of dominate in their latest 59-point win over UMKC, as they outshot their opponent form the field, 51.4 percent to 29.5 percent, and had healthy margins in both the rebounding (59-31) and turnover (17-11) battles. DeAndre Kane shot 6-of-7 from the field for 20 points to go with eight rebounds and four assists. Sherron Dorsey-Walker put up 17 points, Matt Thomas netted 14, and Melvin Ejim and Monte Morris added 11 points apiece. Iowa State has been on fire this season in all aspects of the game, shooting 51.1 percent from the field (including 51-of-133 from 3-point range) for 90.4 points per game, while its opponents put up just 64.2 points on 35.2 percent shooting. Ejim (16.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg) is one of the nation's best forwards, while Kane (16.4 ppg, 8.4 rpg) has been outstanding in his first season since transferring from Marshall. Georges Niang (13.2 ppg), Naz Long (11.0 ppg), Thomas (10.2 ppg) and Dustin Hogue (10.0 ppg) round out one of the deepest teams in the country.

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