Kansas State and Iowa State both had poor offensive performances to blame for losses in their last games. The teams will try to re-ignite their scoring and avoid back-to-back defeats on Saturday as the 11th-ranked Wildcats travel to play the Cyclones.
The Wildcats (15-3, 4-1 Big 12) had won eight in a row before their offense floundered in a 59-55 home loss to No. 3 Kansas on Tuesday. They shot 35.1 percent from the floor, their third-worst mark of the season. Coach Bruce Weber's club also uncharacteristically settled for 3-point shots, going 9 of 30 after entering averaging 17.6 attempts from long range.
Kansas State had shot more than 19 3-pointers only four other times this season.
"We obviously relied on the three ball tonight, but it is something that they give you," Weber said. " ... You have to hit the open ones, and that will make them defend you a little different. We did not do that. Somewhere along the line, we have to get some more inside looks. We have to get some penetration to the basket."
Junior Shane Southwell often bailed the offense out, establishing career highs with five 3-pointers and 19 points. Meanwhile, it was a struggle for Rodney McGruder, the third-leading scorer in the Big 12 at 15.4 points per game. The senior guard scored only two in the first half and finished with 13 points on 4-of-12 shooting, his lowest scoring total in a month.
In the first four conference games, McGruder had been shooting 53.2 percent - including 48.4 percent from 3-point range - while averaging 21.5 points.
"Rod got going in the second half," Weber said of McGruder, who fired only three of his 12 shots from inside the arc. "We just have to find ways to get Rod open not just for 3s, but other scoring opportunities."
McGruder is the team's only player averaging more than 9.4 points per game. In three losses, he's shooting 31.4 percent while scoring 11.0 ppg, compared to a 45.8 percent clip while averaging 16.3 in 15 wins.
"We have a lot of basketball left," McGruder said. "This cannot be the end of it. We just have to get over it. We just have to prepare for Iowa State on Saturday no matter what."
Iowa State (13-5, 3-2) has won its last 17 games at Hilton Coliseum dating back to last season, but is coming off its lowest scoring total in Fred Hoiberg's three seasons as coach. The Cyclones shot 35.3 percent in a 56-51 loss at Texas Tech on Wednesday.
It was a puzzling performance by the Big 12's top scoring team (78.9 ppg) against the conference's worst scoring defense (69.8).
"I thought we got stagnant," Hoiberg said of his team, which also recorded a season-low eight assists. "We just didn't have the same movement that we had (before). Our spacing wasn't as good as it had been. We got bunched up. That's one of the reasons we're leading the Big 12 in scoring - the way we've been going out and playing unselfish basketball."
Iowa State is one of eight teams nationally with five players averaging double figures, but only two scored 10 or more against Texas Tech, as Will Clyburn tallied 12 and Korie Lucious had 11.
The Cyclones knocked down 11 3-pointers in a 65-61 win at Kansas State on Feb. 25 to sweep the season series for the first time since 2004.
The Associated Press News Service
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