Stillwater, OK (SportsNetwork.com) - The Oklahoma State Cowboys will close out a two-game homestand at Gallagher-Iba Arena on Monday night when they take on the Iowa State Cyclones in a Big 12 Conference clash.
After opening up the season with 14 consecutive victories, Iowa State came crashing back down to earth with losses in four of its next five games before earning a impressive 81-75 home victory over nationally-ranked Oklahoma on Saturday afternoon. The Cyclones, who are 16-4 overall and 4-4 in league play, have gone just 2-3 on the road this season.
Oklahoma State has also been sliding of late following an outstanding start to the campaign, as it has lost three of four to drop to 16-5 and 4-4 in the Big 12. The Cowboys had won their first 10 home games of the season before Saturday's loss to Baylor, 76-70.
The Cowboys own a 63-54 advantage in the all-time series with the Cyclones, which includes 18 straight victories in Stillwater.
After playing the first half of their most recent contest to a 37-37 tie, the Cyclones separated themselves from Oklahoma early in the second stanza with a 14-4 run and held tight down the stretch for the six-point victory. They outshot OU from the field on the afternoon, 44.4 percent to 40.6 percent, and drained 10-of-26 from 3-point range. Georges Niang (27 points) and Melvin Ejim (22 points, 16 points) were both outstanding in the triumph, while Matt Thomas scored 13 points, Monte Morris netted 12 and DeAndre Kane handed out nine assists.
Iowa State's success this season has been predicated by its outstanding offensive attack, as it shoots 47.6 percent from the field while ranking sixth in the nation with 84.4 ppg. It drains 8.9 3-pointers per contest, boasts a +2.3 turnover margin and holds opponents to just 40.7 percent shooting and 71.8 ppg. Ejim is the Big 12's leading scorer with 18.1 ppg on 51.3 percent shooting from the field and 78.8 percent at the foul line to go with 7.8 rpg. Kane is one of the nation's most well-rounded guards with 16.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 5.8 rpg and 1.6 spg. Niang brings 16.4 ppg to the table, while Dustin Hogue (11.2 ppg, 8.9 rpg) joins Ejim in the frontcourt.
In a game that consisted of 13 ties and 14 lead changes, Oklahoma State held a one-point lead with under five minutes to play on Saturday only for Baylor to pull away for the victory thanks to an 11-3 run. It shot a solid 46 percent from the field, but it wasn't good enough to keep pace with the red-hot Bears (.519). Markel Brown did all he could to keep his team in it, draining 9-of-12 from the field, including 6-of-8 from 3-point range for 24 points. Le'Bryan Nash added 19 points and Marcus Smart, despite shooting only 3-of-14 from the field, filled the stat sheet with 15 points, seven assists, six rebounds and three steals.
On the season, the Cowboys have displayed excellent balance on both ends of the floor, outshooting their opponents from the field, 47.6 percent to 39.4 percent, for the nation's sixth-best scoring margin (+15.7), while falling just shy of Iowa State's league-best scoring offense (83.2 ppg). Smart has lived up to the billing as one of the country's premiere playmakers at guard with 17.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.5 apg and 2.5 spg, although his percentages from the floor (.418) and 3-point range (.286) have been less than ideal. Brown is right on Smart's tail for the scoring lead with 16.9 ppg, Nash tallies 14.0 ppg and 5.9 rpg and Phil Forte (12.4 ppg) provides a spark off the bench by draining 60 3-pointers at a blistering 48 percent clip.