Just as No. 14 Iowa State seemed to be regaining the form that saw it begin the season with 14 straight wins, it played easily its worst game of the season. After enduring their most lopsided loss in over three years, the Cyclones return home on Saturday to face Texas Tech. Iowa State downed a pair of top-25 foes during its three-game winning streak before West Virginia pounded the Cyclones 102-77 on Monday, handing Iowa State its worst defeat since a 26-point setback at Colorado in February 2011.
The Red Raiders appeared to be headed toward another long season after a conference-opening home loss to the Cyclones on Jan. 4 began a stretch in which they lost six of eight. Instead, Texas Tech has won three in a row following Wednesday's 68-60 victory at Oklahoma in which it held the conference's second-highest scoring offense to its lowest output of the season. "It certainly validates and confirms that we're doing things well and doing things the right way," Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith said following the game.
TV: 1:45 p.m. ET, ESPN3
ABOUT TEXAS TECH (13-11, 5-6 Big 12): The Red Raiders scored 30 points in the paint Monday and are averaging 35.4, ahead of the school-record pace set in 1995-96 (34.3). Texas Tech's ability to score inside has overshadowed its woes from the 3-point line during its winning streak, during which time the Red Raiders are shooting 23 percent beyond the arc. Texas Tech recorded 10 steals for the second straight contest, symbolic of a defensive effort in which Smith estimated his team generated 37-40 deflections - including 27 in the first half alone.
ABOUT IOWA STATE (18-5, 6-5): The Cyclones remained the only team in Division I to score at least 70 points in every contest, but little else went right two days after conference player of the year candidate Melvin Ejim exploded for a Big 12-record 48 points against Texas Christian. Ejim managed only six points in a game coach Fred Hoiberg called "the worst effort we have had by far this season." Hoiberg told reporters after the game that his team allowed seven 3-pointers and eight layups by halftime while his offense missed nine layups and six free throws.
1. Iowa State is the highest-scoring team in the Big 12, although Texas Tech held Oklahoma and Oklahoma State - second and third in the league in scoring, respectively - to a combined 43 points below their season averages over the last two games.
2. F Jaye Crockett is four steals shy of becoming the fifth Red Raider to record 1,000 points, 600 rebounds, 100 assists and 100 steals.
3. Cyclones freshman G Monte Morris is on pace to break the NCAA single-season record for assist-to-turnover ratio (5.21), set by Utah State's Tyler Newbold (3.96) in 2009.
PREDICTION: Iowa State 68, Texas Tech 64