The Iowa State Cyclones barely escaped with another home win tonight, but the Kansas State Wildcats continued to impress through conference play. To keep this game close would’ve made a statement, but the Wildcats actually had a four-point lead with less than eight minutes to play. This surprisingly exciting game further proved that the Big 12 is the strongest basketball conference in the country.
The K-State squad that came into Ames tonight seemed completely different than the team who lost to Long Beach State and Texas Southern earlier in the season. Their best scorer, Marcus Foster, came alive over the four games prior to tonight, averaging 15.5 points over that stretch. Iowa State just scored 77 against a staunch KSU defense that didn’t allow anyone to reach 70 points in their previous 12 games.
Nino Williams continued to emerge in his fourth year at K-State by scoring a career-high 22 points. Foster kept making an impact with his 16 points, but none of it was enough to stop the Cyclones from winning at home tonight.
The Cyclones now stand alone at the top of the best conference in college basketball. This is ISU’s first 4-1 start to conference play since 1999, and they’ve never been in a better position to dethrone Kansas as the best team in the Big 12. You also won’t find many eight-loss teams as good as K-State is right now. All this tough competition just solidifies the already-apparent belief that these two squads come from the country’s best conference.
There are still six ranked teams in the Big 12, and perhaps the conference’s best just barely beat a team that is supposed to be a Big 12 bottom-feeder. This wasn’t the first or last exciting conference-play matchup to look forward to in 2015.