September 23, 2014

Iowa State can bolster a middling start to the Big 12 season with a home win, but it will have to come against one of two teams to record a victory in Ames over the last four years.

The 13th-ranked Cyclones hope to stay perfect at home and avoid their third straight loss to Baylor when the Bears visit on Saturday.

Iowa State (12-2, 1-1) followed last week's conference-opening 87-83 loss at then-No. 3 Oklahoma by narrowly holding off Texas Tech 76-69 on Wednesday, the Cyclones' ninth straight victory at home since a 79-70 loss to Baylor on Feb. 25.

Iowa State nearly coughed up an 18-point lead against the Red Raiders but used a late surge for its first conference win. Matt Thomas made 6 of 10 3-pointers for a career-high 22 points and Georges Niang posted all 14 of his in the second half after missing most of the first with foul trouble.

The Cyclones, though, shot a season-low 39.7 percent and opened the second half 3 of 16 from the field. It was Iowa State's third win while shooting worse than 45 percent.

"That's a good thing because we're not always going to shoot like that," coach Steve Prohm said. "You've got to win ugly sometimes, you've got to win on bad shooting nights. That happens."

The Cyclones also allowed 13 offensive rebounds, surrendering at least that many for the fourth consecutive game. Rebounding could be a key Saturday as Iowa State ranks seventh in the Big 12 with a plus-3.2 rebounding differential and will face the No. 2 team in the conference. Baylor's plus-11.4 mark sits only behind West Virginia's 12.1, and the Bears are one of nine teams in the nation with better than a plus-11 margin.

Baylor senior forward Rico Gathers ranks eighth in the nation with 11.3 boards per game and second with 4.9 on the offensive glass.

"That's probably the No. 1 concern," Prohm said.

The Cyclones are 8-0 at Hilton Coliseum and 30-1 there since Jan. 25, 2014. The lone blemish in that stretch was last season's loss to Baylor, helping the Bears sweep the two-game series. Baylor made its final seven 3-pointers for its first-ever win in Ames.

Baylor is the only team other than Kansas to win there in 64 games since Jan. 11, 2012.

"That's our last loss in Hilton, so we're definitely ready to avenge that loss and get back at them this weekend," said Thomas, who has averaged 12.7 points in six games since replacing the injured Naz Mitrou-Long in the starting lineup.

Baylor (11-3, 1-1) rebounded from last week's Big 12-opening 102-74 loss at then-No. 2 Kansas with Tuesday's 79-62 victory over Oklahoma State. Gathers finished with 17 points and 17 rebounds, his fourth game this season with at least 16 boards.

Three days after falling behind 24-4 in Lawrence, the Bears jumped ahead of the Cowboys 38-20 and didn't trail in the final 36:59.

''That's life in the Big 12," coach Scott Drew said. "One game, you start out like crud, and the next game you start out well.''

Baylor, which can open conference play with a winning record through three games for the first time in three seasons, has lost all three of its true road games. The Bears rank second in the nation with 21.2 assists per game, but that number drops to 11.0 on the road.

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