AMES — Take it from Baylor coach Scott Drew.
Monday’s 6 p.m. ESPN-televised “Big Monday” Big 12 game between Iowa State and Oklahoma is going to be, well, big.
“The fans should have a chance to see a good one,” Drew said after the Cyclones beat his team 79-71 Saturday night.
So will the entire country, as ISU (15-6, 5-3) seeks to solidify its position among top-tier conference teams against the Sooners (14-6, 5-3) at a likely sold-out Hilton Coliseum.
“It’s another game,” said ISU freshman forward Georges Niang, who finally ended his team’s 0-for-13 3-point shooting slump Saturday and spurred a second-half rally. “Everybody wants to play another game and it’s Oklahoma and we’re fighting to win the league.”
The Cyclones, Sooners, Bears and Oklahoma State are locked in a four-way tie for third place in the Big 12.
ISU boasts a win over second-place Kansas State — and is a miracle bank shot away from a triumph at first-place Kansas, which finally lost a Big 12 game Saturday to the Cowboys.
“I think our guys fight every time they take the floor,” Cyclone coach Fred Hoiberg said. “Look at what could have been and what could be, with losing (in overtime) at Kansas and that tough loss (Wednesday) at Okie State, but we learned from those situations and I’m really proud of our guys and how they’ve responded.”
Oklahoma is coming off a disconcerting loss of its own — 52-50 to K-State Saturday at Norman.
The Sooners went nearly 11 minutes without scoring in one stretch, but still took the 18th-ranked Wildcats to the brink.
“Now we see what we need to work on,” Oklahoma forward Romero Osby told The Oklahoman after the game.
Apparently, the work’s needed on offense — and improvement must come against the conference’s highest scoring team.
ISU averages 72.8 points in Big 12 play and five different players have led the team in scoring in the past seven games.
“Iowa State’s so potent,” Drew said. “They can go on strings and runs.”
Lately, it’s been Will Clyburn leading the way.
The 6-7 senior transfer scored 24 in last Saturday’s win over K-State and a conference career-high 28 against Baylor.
“He said, ‘Give me the ball,’” Hoiberg said. “We gave it to him and he made plays.”
He’ll try again Monday as the Cyclones seek to extend their Big 12-leading home winning streak to 20 games.“We have a bunch of guys here willing to grind out wins,” Niang said.