3. Iowa State appears poised for a strong second-half surge. The Cyclones have won three of their past four games -- all of which came against some of the Big 12's best teams. They beat Kansas State (by six points), Baylor (eight) and Oklahoma (19) in Ames, Iowa, and lost to Oklahoma State 78-76 in Stillwater, Okla.
Iowa State is 16-6 overall and 6-3 in the Big 12. [+] EnlargeReese Strickland/USA TODAY Sports Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg is pleased to see the progress and growth of his team.
"I've really been pleased with the growth of our team," Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg told ESPN.com after Monday's win over Oklahoma. "If you look at where we are right now, we're in a pretty good position. We lost to Kansas on a banked 3 and to Oklahoma State when things didn't go our way down the stretch. But we're playing really good basketball right now. I really like our guys' focus and effort."
Iowa State touts one of the top offensive attacks in college basketball. The Cyclones' 78.5 points per game ranks 12th in the nation. In Monday's win over Oklahoma, six players made 3-pointers in the first nine minutes.
Even more impressive is that Iowa State ranks 15th in the country in rebounding. Power forward Melvin Ejim -- who averages a Big 12-best 9.4 boards per contest -- is just 6-foot-6. And center Georges Niang is only 6-7.
"Melvin is a tenacious rebounder," Hoiberg said. "He goes after it every time. We want our 3, 4 and 5 guys crashing the offensive glass. Melvin is the one that does it every single possession.
"Georges is a strong rebounder. He doesn't have great lift, but he wedges guys out. He uses his body and does a good job of getting to the boards. [Small forward] Will Clyburn can get you eight a game too. That helps.
"We feel like if we can control the glass, we can beat anybody."
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Iowa State vs. George Mason (Diamond Head Classic)