Iowa State still has a shot at keeping Kansas from a piece of an 11th straight regular-season Big 12 title, but its recent road play doesn’t inspire much confidence.
The 14th-ranked Cyclones look to correct their defensive road woes Wednesday night against No. 22 Oklahoma State.
Iowa State (18-6, 8-4) is 1 1/2 games back of No. 8 and first-place Kansas, though it has a game in hand as it tries to thwart the Jayhawks’ bid to grab at least a share of the Big 12 title yet again.
The Cyclones have split their last four games, letting Kansas and Oklahoma shoot a combined 50.7 percent in two road losses to fall to 2-4 away from home with four straight defeats. They’re giving up 80.3 points per game on the road compared to 64.6 at home.
“You have to go on runs,” coach Fred Hoiberg said of winning on the road. “We went on some runs both against Kansas and Oklahoma and they responded to our runs. We didn’t respond very well to theirs.”
Iowa State played much better defense in limiting Texas Tech and West Virginia to a combined 34.5 percent shooting in two home victories. The Cyclones held the then-21st ranked Mountaineers more than 12 points below their previous scoring average in conference play in a 79-59 victory Saturday.
“Our biggest problem as of late is defensively and just making effort plays,” said Monte Morris, who had 19 points and three steals. “We knew if we did that we’d have a good shot at winning.”
Jameel McKay has given Hoiberg a spark since joining the starting lineup, averaging 15.0 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 77.3 percent in the last three games. He had been averaging 9.3 points on 56.9 percent shooting with 5.3 boards as a reserve in his previous 12 contests.
McKay took the starting spot of Bryce Dejean-Jones, who is 10 of 15 from the field in the last three games since going 4 of 13 in his last start at Kansas on Feb. 2.
Oklahoma State (17-8, 7-6) had won three straight games all against ranked teams for the first time ever in the regular season before falling 70-55 at TCU on Saturday, giving the Horned Frogs their second conference win.
The Cowboys were outscored 14-2 over the final 4:52 and played poor interior defense, letting TCU hit 26 of 41 2-point attempts.
“We just came out sluggish, and that’s something that you can’t do,” said Michael Cobbins, who had eight points. “I don’t know where it came from, but it’s sure to be corrected and we’ll be back better than ever.”
Oklahoma State has limited teams to 37.3 percent 2-point shooting in going 11-2 at home.
Iowa State has won four straight meetings and ended an 18-game losing streak in Stillwater with a 98-97 triple-overtime win on Feb. 3, 2014, their first victory there since March 2, 1988.
The Cyclones also won 63-61 at home on Jan. 6, blocking two Oklahoma State 3-point attempts in the final second. Dustin Hogue had one of those blocks and led Iowa State with 17 points while Phil Forte III scored 21 for the Cowboys.
Oklahoma State’s Le’Bryan Nash has averaged 20.7 points on 52.4 percent shooting in three career home games against the Cyclones but matched a career worst with seven turnovers against TCU.