Iowa State Cyclones vs. Kansas State Wildcats Pick & Prediction JANUARY 24th 2024

Kansas State puts its share of the Big 12 Conference lead on the line as it travels to Ames, Iowa, on Wednesday for a matchup with No. 23 Iowa State.

The host Cyclones are part of a five-team logjam in third place, a half-game behind second-place Kansas and a game behind K-State and Texas Tech.

The Cyclones (14-4, 3-2 Big 12) return home after splitting a pair of road games. Following an 87-72 loss at then-No. 20 BYU, Iowa State escaped with a 73-72 victory at then-No. 19 TCU last week. They did it with tenacious defense, a formula that might work against K-State, which leads the conference in turnovers per game (14.7).

The Cyclones forced a team-record (during their Big 12 existence) 27 turnovers, including 18 steals, which tied a team record. Seven of those steals came from Curtis Jones, who is tied for the second most in a game in team history.

“We’re really fortunate,” Iowa State coach TJ Otzelberger said. “We know how hard it is to win a road game in the league. We know TCU is a tremendous team when it comes to pushing the ball in transition. And the effort they give on the offensive glass. They are relentless.

“Credit to our guys. You get into games like that and you’ve got to find a way to make one more play.”

The Wildcats (14-4, 4-1) are coming off a pair of home victories over then-No. 9 Baylor and Oklahoma State. Arthur Kaluma, who was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week on Monday, came up clutch in both games.

Against Baylor last Tuesday, Kaluma had a four-point play with 20 seconds left in overtime to turn a two-point deficit into a two-point lead. Kaluma only had 12 points in that game, but there were none bigger than that handful.

Against Oklahoma State on Saturday, K-State was struggling to find its rhythm. Kaluma scored the last 11 points of the half for the Wildcats, who trailed by four at the half.

He led the Wildcats with 23 points, many coming in clutch moments. It’s become his M.O.

“Arthur’s clutch,” K-State coach Jerome Tang said afterward. “I think we got several dudes who are clutch. I think what Arthur did at the end of the (first) half was he stopped trying to just drive the ball or make plays for other people which were leading to turnovers and he just shot the ball. I just told him, ‘Just shoot, don’t turn it over, just catch it and just shoot it.’ It freed him up and he saw it go in and then he was really good.”

Kaluma took it in stride.

“I felt like it just came naturally,” he said. “I’m trying to focus on letting the game come to me, so I was just seeing my spots where I could be aggressive. At the end of the half, the 3-pointer that I hit, that was a drawn-up play. I knew I had to shoot it at that point. But other than that, I was just playing in the flow of the game.”

–Field Level Media

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