Iowa State used its non-conference schedule to get off to the best start in school history.
As a result, the No. 13 Cyclones are now in position to match their longest all-time winning streak when they visit Texas Tech to open Big 12 play Saturday.
Iowa State (12-0) has been powered in part by dynamic offense during its run, as it's averaging 88.2 points to rank third in the nation. The Cyclones have raised their level on defense in the last four games, however, allowing 64.0 points a contest while not allowing any of those opponents to reach 70.
Iowa State gave up 70 or more five times in the first eight games.
The Cyclones limited Northern Illinois to 31.4 percent from the field and 2 for 12 from 3-point range in the second half of a 99-63 victory Tuesday.
Iowa State shot 58.7 percent overall and had 28 assists while playing with a heavy heart, as the team learned hours before tipoff that legendary Cyclones coach Johnny Orr had passed away at 86.
"I knew we'd come out and play well. It was a pretty darn good game," said coach Fred Hoiberg, whose team leads the nation with 19.3 assists and a 1.93 assist-to-turnover ratio. "Those guys continue to go out, play unselfishly, and play for each other. That's a great thing to have."
Twelve assists along with 16 points and eight rebounds came from guard DeAndre Kane, who completed an outstanding non-conference season - his first at Iowa State - in which he averaged 15.0 points, 7.5 boards and 6.1 assists while shooting 51.3 percent. He had one turnover for the second straight game.
Six players scored in double figures for the Cyclones, who won a program-best 13 straight from Dec. 3, 1999-Jan. 19, 2000.
Tying that streak will mean defeating a Texas Tech team that's coming off its best offensive game of the season. The Red Raiders (8-5) defeated Mount St. Mary's 100-69 on Monday, shooting 63.3 percent and getting double-figure scoring from six players. Dejan Kravic and Jaye Crockett led the way with 14 points apiece.
"You come out with the mindset of following a game plan, and when everything is working out, it feels really good," said reserve forward Kader Tapsoba, who scored 13 points - 10.0 above his average.
"It was a good test before Iowa State, because that's going to be a big game for us."
Texas Tech has played one ranked team this season, losing to then-No. 2 Arizona 79-58 on Dec. 3. The Red Raiders have dropped 31 in a row to Top 25 foes.
While Iowa State has won three of the last four meetings, the one Texas Tech victory in that span came in the latest matchup in Lubbock, 56-51 on Jan. 23. The Red Raiders have won six of seven at home in the series.
"It will be a very physical game ..." Hoiberg said of facing Texas Tech. " ... You have to be ready for a physical battle, and certainly on the glass, which we didn't do a very good job of in our last game."
Iowa State, among the national leaders with 42.3 rebounds per game, was outrebounded 46-36 by Northern Illinois.
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