Iowa State might not be the best team in the Big 12, but it is the most entertaining.
In a year when college basketball has been bogged down by too many ugly clankfests, the free-flowing, fast-moving Cyclones — who will face Texas on Wednesday night at the Erwin Center, in Myck Kabongo’s return from a 23-game NCAA suspension — are easy on the eyes.
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BIG 12 POWER POLL
1. (1) Kansas; 20-4 (8-3); vs. Texas (10-13), Sat.; Self’s State of the Union address: Our offense is not broke. In Ben we trust.
2. (4) Oklahoma State; 17-5 (7-3); at Texas Tech (9-12), Wed.; The Smart thing to do in Stillwater is give ball to Marcus and clear the heck out of the way.
3. (3) Kansas State; 19-5 (8-3); vs. Baylor (15-8), Sat.; Wildcats look as if they’re out picking dandelions during these one-sided Sunflower State rivalry games.
4. (2) Iowa State; 16-7 (6-4); at Texas (10-13), Wed.; Aesthetically pleasing Cyclones play college hoops’ version of Brazilian soccer’s ‘beautiful game.’
5. (5) Oklahoma; 16-7 (7-4); at Oklahoma State (17-5), Sat.; In young man’s league, some Sooners have been around longer than retiring Pope Benedict XVI.
6. (6) Baylor; 15-8 (6-4); vs. West Virginia (12-11), Wed.; New secretary of defense is Scott Drew, whose team is No. 1 in Big 12 D for first time ever.
7. (7) West Virginia; 12-11 (5-5); at Baylor (15-8), Wed.; As Valentine’s Day arrives, Huggy Bear’s team, winner of 3 straight, looking more lovable.
8. (8) Texas; 10-13 (2-8); vs. Iowa State (16-7), Wed.; Hooray, Myck Kabongo is back. Can we bring Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge with him?
9. (9) Texas Tech; 9-12 (2-8); vs. Oklahoma State (17-5), Wed.; Grammy Award-winning country song ‘Blown Away’ describes what happens to Raiders most nights.
10. (10) TCU; 10-14 (1-10); at Iowa State (16-7), Sat.; Dismal post-Kansas results confirm that Frogs’ Big 12 shocker about as rare as lunar landing.
Where crowd-pleasing Iowa State ranks nationally (among 345 teams) and in the Big 12 in key offensive categories:
Category; Nat; B12
Scoring; 9; 1
Scor. marg.; 41; 4
FG shooting; 69; 4
3-pt. shooting; 6; 1
Reb. marg.; 30; 2
Assists; 16; 1
Iowa State at Texas, 7 p.m., KBVO, 1300, 98.1
*assists per game
About this game: Kabongo will play for the first time after serving a 23-game NCAA suspension. Coach Rick Barnes hopes Kabongo can use his speed and quickness to apply defensive pressure and create a faster pace on offense. And Holmes, Texas’ leading rebounder, who has missed five games with a broken hand, has been cleared to play as well and may start; he started 18 games before his injury. … Iowa State (16-7, 6-4 Big 12) beat the Longhorns (10-13, 2-8) 82-62 on Jan. 12 in Ames. Texas trailed by seven with seven minutes remaining. That was the game in which Barnes benched Sheldon McClellan for 39 of the 40 minutes. McClellan came in as a sub, failed to secure a rebound and was banished.