Who will WIN this matchup?
Iowa State Cyclones (20-11)
Baylor Bears (19-12)
Iowa State Cyclones: (-155)
Baylor Bears: (+135)
• The line for this game is Iowa State by 3 points.
Teams seemingly safely situated for next week’s NCAA Tournament will try to snap three-game losing streaks when fourth-seeded Baylor plays No. 5 seed Iowa State in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. on Thursday. The Bears swept the season series from the Cyclones by only seven combined points despite a 77-54 edge in rebounding. Baylor was picked ninth out of 10 teams in the Big 12 preseason coaches poll and surprised just about everybody by finishing fourth despite losing leading scorer Tristan Clark to a season-ending injury two games into conference play and overcoming multiple-game injuries to starters Makai Mason (six games), King McClure (five) and Jake Lindsey (missed entire season). In its regular-season finale, a 78-70 loss to Kansas which leading scorer Mason missed with a toe injury, freshman Jared Butler scored 31 points, becoming the first Bears player in over a year to surpass 30 in a game.
The Cyclones, who lost their last three games by a combined 39 points, including Saturday’s 80-73 defeat against No. 6 Texas Tech, are led by Big 12 First Team selection Marial Shayok (18.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists), a 6-6 wing player who averaged 19.5 points in the two games against Baylor this season.
Shayok, who “should be good to go” after playing through a toe injury, is second in the league in scoring, has tallied at least 17 points in 24 of 30 games played and is shooting 49.6 percent from the floor, 39.6 percent on 3-pointers and 87.7 percent at the line. “He’s had a huge impact on our team,” coach Steve Prohm said. “He would have had a good chance for Big 12 Player of the Year if these last three weeks didn’t kind of tumble down the stretch.” Sophomore guard Lindell Wigginton (13.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists), who was the conference’s sixth man of the year, is averaging 16.7 points and nine free-throw attempts the last three games and has connected on a 3-pointer in 19 consecutive games – eighth-longest streak in school history.
Mason, the first grad transfer in program history (Yale) and a All-Big 12 Second Team selection, ranks seventh in scoring (14.6), fourth in free-throw percentage (.827) and sixth in 3-pointers made (2.0), and the 6-1 guard set a Baylor record for points in a league game with 40 against TCU on Feb. 2 – six more than any other Big 12 player has scored in a game this season. Butler, an all-freshman team pick, ranked 12th in the league in scoring (12.5), seventh in assists (3.4) and sixth in 3-point percentage (.422), and his points and 43 3-pointers in conference play led all freshmen. Sophomore Mark Vital, a 6-6 wing who was named to the Big 12 all-defensive team, leads the Big 12 in offensive rebounding (3.5 per game), ranks fourth in total rebounding (7.2) and eighth in blocks (0.9).
The winner will play the Kansas State-TCU winner in the semifinals on Friday.
Iowa State junior F Michael Jacobson (11.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 58.4 field-goal percentage – fourth in Big 12) was selected to the Academic All-America Second Team.
The Cyclones hold a 19-18 lead in the all-time series, including 3-1 in games played in Kansas City. The last meeting was in the 2014 championships game, which Iowa State won 74-65.