Ames, IA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Texas Tech Red Raiders go in search of their first four-game win streak of the season on Saturday afternoon, as they ride into Hilton Coliseum to challenge the 11th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones in Big 12 Conference action.
Texas Tech is just 13-11 on the season, 5-6 in conference, but the team has performed very well the past two weeks, winning three in a row, the last two of which have come against teams that had been members of the Top-25 -- Oklahoma State (65-61) and Oklahoma (68-60). Despite their recent upswing, the Red Raiders are just 2-6 in true road games this season, although they've split their last four away from Lubbock, including Wednesday's big win over the Sooners.
Iowa State had a three-game win streak stopped at West Virginia in its most recent outing, as the Cyclones were trounced in a 102-77 final. It was only the fifth loss for ISU this season, and all of its setbacks have come against conference foes. The Cyclones are a near-perfect 11-1 at home, with their lone blemish coming in a 77-70 loss to Kansas on Jan. 13. They will play three of their next four in Ames, including this one.
Iowa State owns a 13-11 lead in the all-time series with Texas Tech, and that includes a 73-62 win in Lubbock in the conference opener this season. Georges Niang scored 17 points and hauled in seven rebounds to lead the Cyclones in that contest, while the Red Raiders were paced by Jaye Crockett's 20-point, 11-rebound effort.
Robert Turner scored 16 points and handed out five assists, while Crockett and Dusty Hannahs chipped in 10 points each for the Red Raiders in their recent upset of Oklahoma. Crockett pulled down eight of the team's 36 rebounds, as it outmuscled the Sooners to the tune of a +7 rebounding advantage. A resounding 20-6 edge in points from the foul line also played an integral role in the final outcome. Oklahoma shot just 28 percent from the field in the opening half, and it went 6-of-27 from 3-point range (.222) for the game.
Crockett (14.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and Jordan Tolbert (10.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg) are the only players averaging double figures in scoring for coach Tubby Smith's club, which features four others who net between 6.8 and 9.8 ppg. As a collective unit, the Red Raiders are hitting their field goals 46.6 percent of the time in putting up 71.6 ppg, while allowing the opposition 68.2 ppg in keeping them to only 29.6 caroms per contest.
Niang was high man once again for the Cyclones in their recent loss to West Virginia, as he tallied 17 points. Unfortunately, Iowa State shot just 36.6 percent from the floor, which included a woeful 4-of-23 performance from beyond the arc. Dustin Hogue logged a double-double consisting of 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Melvin Ejim came up with a dozen boards, helping mask his dismal 1-of-9 shooting effort. Despite claiming a 44-34 rebounding advantage, ISU lost the game by allowing the Mountaineers to drain 13 treys as part of a 53.8 percent overall shooting effort.
Ejim (19.1 ppg. 8.7 rpg) is one of the more well-round players, not only in the Big 12, but the country as well. He gets help from Niang (16.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg), DeAndre Kane (15.9 ppg, 6.0 apg) and Hogue (11.1 ppg, 8.8 rpg), as the team generates a robust 84.7 ppg while permitting 74.1 ppg. The Cyclones are outshooting their opponents (.471 to .415), and they goad them into nearly 13 turnovers per outing.