Iowa State at Baylor men’s basketball: Five players to watch


The Baylor Bears went on a tailspin after getting blown out in Ames, 87-72, at the hands of the Iowa State Cyclones back in the second game of Big 12 play.

Feb 17, 2014; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears forward Cory Jefferson (34) celebrates wtih center Isaiah Austin (21) and forward Royce O

Nearly two months have passed, and Baylor is finally on the winning trend in Big 12 play, nearly capturing six straight victories if it wasn’t for a close five-point loss at Texas last Wednesday.

With the Bears playing extensively better since their second-half beatdown at Hilton Coliseum, here’s what Iowa State needs to watch for to avoid a similar fate in Waco.

#34 Cory Jefferson (BAY senior forward, 6-foot-9, 220 lbs.)

While he’s not firing at the unreal clip of 61 percent from the field like last season and his free throw percentage has dropped, Jefferson is still efficient on the offensive end. He’s a dangerous threat on the offensive glass, and Iowa State did a great job holding him to just three in their previous meeting. Jefferson ranks fourth in the Big 12 in total rebounding (8.4 boards per game) and sixth in blocked shots (40).

#50 DeAndre Kane (ISU senior guard, 6-foot-4, 200 lbs.)

Kane has had some close calls with triple-doubles, and it doesn’t get much closer than the senior’s 30-point night against Baylor that included nine assists, eight rebounds, and five steals. The only blemish was committing six of the team’s 10 turnovers, a rather error-free performance for the rest of the Cyclones.

#21 Isaiah Austin (BAY sophomore center, 7-foot-1, 225 lbs.)

Last year, Austin didn’t have much production against Iowa State, but he finally broke through with a double-double in Ames earlier this year, finishing with 10 points and 12 rebounds. The big man has yet to emerge as the star-studded prospect we all anticipated. He’s really struggled on the offensive end in the last couple games (1-of-14 from the field) after scoring 12 or more points in the five previous games before that.

Mar 1, 2014; Manhattan, KS, USA; Iowa State Cyclones forward Georges Niang (31) shoots against Kansas State Wildcats forward Thomas Gipson (42) during the Cyclones

#31 Georges Niang (ISU sophomore forward, 6-foot-7, 240 lbs.)

Melvin Ejim dominated on offense making 8-of-14 from the field and Dustin Hogue crashed the glass leading the team with 10 rebounds in the first game against Baylor, but Niang was the odd-man-out in the frontcourt dealing with foul trouble and playing just 25 minutes. He missed all three 3-point attempts and had just three rebounds, but he did dish out five assists. The entire frontcourt needs to stay out of foul trouble to compete with Baylor on the road.

#5 Brady Heslip (BAY senior guard, 6-foot-2, 180 lbs.)

This season, Heslip averages a stunning 46.2 percent from 3-point range, and he was one of the bright spots in the blowout at Hilton Coliseum making 4-of-6 from downtown and finished tying the team-high of 15 points off the bench. Heslip has made 90 3-pointers this season; the next best player on the team is Gary Franklin with 39.