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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Hilton not so horrific

Cyclones have lost four home games already this year

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— Hilton Coliseum's reputation as one of the toughest places in the country for opponents to play has taken a hit this season.

Iowa State's Cyclones, who had lost just four games at home the past two seasons combined, have dropped four games this season at Hilton's House of Horrors entering today's 11 a.m. clash against Kansas.

Still, the Jayhawks are wary of the Cyclones' home.

"It's a very tough place to play," said KU coach Bill Self, who is 1-1 in the building as KU's coach. "If you've played well enough to win there, you've done a nice job."

Iowa State (13-6, 3-3) lost to Iona (89-72) and Fresno State (84-77) at Hilton in the nonconference season and has dropped consecutive Big 12 Conference games at home -to Texas A&M; (86-81 in OT) and to Texas (78-58) - while clipping Kansas State, 72-70.

ISU is 2-1 on the road in league play with victories at Nebraska (88-75) and Missouri (82-58) to go with a loss at Texas Tech (76-73).

ISU has not lost three straight conference games at Hilton since the 2001-02 season.

"I don't remember that much from last year," KU sophomore Russell Robinson said of the Jayhawks' 71-66 victory in Ames. "I'm sure it won't be any different than anywhere else."

The Jayhawks are used to rowdy road crowds. For instance, Texas A&M; fans waved white towels the whole game.

ISU inconsistent: The Cyclones, who have one of the best backcourt duos in the country in Curtis Stinson and Will Blalock, have been plagued by inconsistency - as evidenced by a 3-3 league record and 13-6 overall mark.

"I've been asked that a few times," coach Wayne Morgan told the Des Moines Register. "If everything was in a perfect world, and I had magic dust, we'd be undefeated.

"Last year when we lost five games in a row (to open league play), it was a new cast of characters. That group couldn't start winning until the two guys with the least amount of experience - Tasheed Carr and Rahshon Clark - knew and understood the level at which they had to play. When they understood that level, we won (the next) seven games in a row, so it's a process."

A loss that could be a killer come NCAA Tournament-selection time was the OT setback to A&M; last week in Ames.

ISU led by 10 points with 17 minutes to play and by three with 30 ticks left. ISU also led by four with 2:36 left in overtime.

"When your young guys get that same experience as the veterans and understand which plays you have to make when you have the lead, we will win the league," Morgan told the Register. "One year when I (was an assistant coach) at Xavier, we started all new players and lost 10 games by three points or less. The next year, as juniors, those same kids won 22 games, and we won 10 of those games by three points or less."

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