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No. 16 Iowa State protects home court, outlasts No. 22 Kansas State

Matt Thomas, Naz Long

Iowa State guard Matt Thomas, left, celebrates with teammate Naz Long (15) after making a 3-point basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kansas State, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)


No. 16 Iowa State got 20 points, nine boards, three steals and three blocks from Melvin Ejim while Georges Niang chipped in with 18 points of his own as the Cyclones held off feisty No. 22 Kansas State in Hilton Coliseum, 81-75.

The win snapped a three game losing streak for Iowa State.

The loss was the second in a row for Kansas State who, just a week ago today, was all alone in second place in the Big 12.

And that just about sums up how the Big 12 is going to be this season.

It’s pretty obvious that Kansas is the best team in the conference this season. If it wasn’t the presence of two guys that could end up being the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft this June that convinced, maybe the fact that we are just three weeks into league play and the Jayhawks already have held a two game lead on everyone else in the conference for more than a week will.

Once you get past Kansas, however, everything else becomes messy. Oklahoma State has an all-american and is as talented and as athletic as any team in the country, but they just don’t have much size in the paint. Oklahoma is difficult to guard and can score with the best of them, but they have an aversion to defense. Texas has a ton of size inside, but their back court is as young as any in the league. Baylor wins on the recruiting trail, but not necessarily in league play this season.

And Iowa State? They’re awesome at home, not so much on the road. Kansas State, at least to this point in the season, is following along with that same trend.

Which is why it’s tough to get a read on either of these teams in a game like this.

The good news for Iowa State? Matt Thomas was 4-for-19 from three in league playing entering Saturday. He finished the game 4-for-6 with 14 points. And for Kansas State, it’s a good sign that they were able to repeatedly come back from menacing in one of the nation’s toughest road environments.

And that, more than anything, is what you can take out of a game like this.

The Big 12 is going to be a gauntlet all year long. If Baylor can figure their issues out, we could be looking at seven tournament teams coming out of a ten team conference.

Every team is going to take their lumps this year. Protecting your home court becomes critical as a result, which is what Iowa State was able to do.