Waco, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - In their final home game of the season, the Baylor Bears will take on the 16th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones in a Big 12 Conference showdown at the Ferrell Center on Tuesday night.
Iowa State had won four straight games prior to its most recent contest on Saturday night, when it dropped a tough road matchup to Kansas State, 80-73. The Cyclones are still in the midst of an outstanding season, going 22-6 overall with a 10-6 mark in the Big 12, but they have not been so impressive on the road (4-5).
Baylor has been on the rise as the regular season comes to a close, as it has come out victorious in five of its last six games to move to 19-10 overall with a 7-9 league ledger. The Bears took care of business at home against Texas Tech on Saturday, 59-49, to improve to 12-4 at the Ferrell Center.
Back on Jan. 7, back when both teams were ranked in the top-10, Iowa State came away with an 87-72 triumph at home to improve its standing in the all- time series with Baylor, 16-9.
The Cyclones were in the midst of a tough battle with Kansas State over the weekend, but with the game tied at 69 with under two minutes remaining, the Wildcats finished on an 11-4 run to seal the deal. Iowa State was plagued by an abnormally poor shooting performance, as it made good on less than 35 percent of its tries from the floor, including just 7-of-27 from 3-point range (.259). Melvin Ejim overcame the struggles of most of his teammates by tallying 30 points and 16 rebounds. DeAndre Kane was also impressive with 24 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while Dustin Hogue brought down 12 boards.
Putting up points is rarely a problem for Iowa State, as it ranks first in the Big 12 and seventh nationally in scoring offense with 83.2 ppg on 47 percent field goal shooting, which has been able to successfully mask a lackluster defensive presence (73.3 ppg). Ejim is the league's most prolific scorer, pouring in 18.9 ppg on 52.5 percent shooting from the floor while adding 8.6 rpg for good measure. Kane is one of the nation's most well-rounded guards with 16.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 5.9 apg and 1.3 spg, while shooting 48.5 percent from the floor. Georges Niang (16.5 ppg) is also a stellar scorer and Hogue (10.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg) adds a physical presence to the paint.
The Bears shot a miserable 30.2 percent from the field in their latest contest, but they were still able to cruise to the easy 10-point home victory by shooting 20-of-25 from the free-throw line, outscoring Texas Tech from 3- point range, 21-6, and winning the rebounding battle, 40-24. Royce O'Neale was the spark plug, posting a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds, while Brady Heslip shot 4-of-11, all from 3-point range, on his way to 14 points.
Baylor has performed well on both ends of the floor this season, shooting 45.2 percent from the field for 75.1 ppg, while allowing just 68.1 ppg on 42.3 percent shooting. It also shoots an impressive 38.9 percent from beyond the arc and boasts an excellent +8.1 rebounding margin, although some of its weaknesses include a .662 free-throw percentage and a -1.8 turnover margin. Cory Jefferson paces the effort from the frontcourt with 13.0 ppg, 8.4 rpg and 1.4 bpg, while Isaiah Austin (10.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.2 bpg) has also been strong in the paint. Heslip (11.4 ppg) has drained 90 3-pointers at a blistering 46.2 percent clip, and Kenny Chery scores 10.9 ppg, while handing out 4.9 apg.