AMES, Iowa — Iowa State entered Saturday’s contest against Kansas State with the No. 11 scoring offense in the country, so defensive stops come at a premium when you play the Cyclones. The problem for K-State was it failed to finish off potential stops with rebounds.
Iowa State outscored the 11th-ranked Wildcats 18-2 on second-chance points to help it pull away with a 73-67 victory on Saturday at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones (14-5, 4-2), grabbed 11 offensive boards in the game and outscored K-State (15-4, 4-2) 14-0 on second-chance points in the game’s final 20 minutes.
“The thing that made us good for most of the season is that we guarded, out-toughed and outplayed people,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said. “We’ve been getting beat on the offensive glass and the loose balls. (Iowa State) made more determined plays.”
The Cyclones’ Will Clyburn, who scored 24 points and collected 10 rebounds, was K-State’s biggest issue on the glass down the stretch. With 2:51 remaining and K-State trailing 65-62, Iowa State’s Melvin Ejim missed a 3-point attempt. However, Clyburn was there for the offensive board. Iowa State capitalized when Georges Niang buried a 3-pointer from the wing 16 seconds later to push the Cyclones’ lead out to six.
K-State’s Will Spradling answered with a 3 from the baseline to bring K-State back within three points, but on the ensuing possession, Niang’s missed 3-pointer was grabbed by Clyburn, who was fouled and made both free throws to push the lead out to 70-65.
“One time we had both (Shane Southwell) and (Spradling) boxing out and Clyburn still got it,” Weber said. “Nino (Williams) boxed someone out and they got it. It’s a difference maker. Those extra opportunities probably are the difference in the game.”
Part of K-State’s difficulty at rebounding was because of the way Iowa State plays on offense. The Cyclones typically spread the floor with five guys who all possess the ability to shoot from the perimeter. That forced the Wildcats to go small, as Jordan Henriquez and Thomas Gipson each played just nine minutes.
“You get spread out, you get beat by the dribble, you help and now it’s a rotation box out,” Weber said. “(Gipson) didn’t play much but he has to get a rebound.
“It starts with the bigs. We’ve got to have some other guys rebound.”
The Wildcats, who were 34th in the country in rebounding margin heading into Saturday, have struggled recently on the glass. In K-State’s last three games combined, it has been outrebounded 109-81. And in two of those three contests (Oklahoma and at Iowa State), K-State was outscored by a combined margin of 38-7 on second-chance points.
“We were big early (in the season) and we weren’t very good offensively,” Weber said. “We made the change to go with the smaller lineup and it’s hurt us a little bit (rebounding). I’d like these guys to rebound and be better offensively.”