Iowa St.-Oklahoma St. Preview

The Associated Press

Oklahoma State's first home loss of the season had coach Travis Ford stressing team play to dig out of a disappointing two-week stretch.

Home dates against Iowa State have also proved to be successful remedies.

The 19th-ranked Cowboys will try to avoid a third straight loss when they host the No. 16 Cyclones on Monday night.

"It doesn't get any easier. The good part is, you can get right back on the court and do something about it," said Ford, whose team plummeted 11 spots in the Top 25. "We can't feel sorry for ourselves, because it won't do any good. We have to weather the storm. These are tough times. Everyone goes through them. How we respond is important. For us to have success, we need to recover as a team. If we continue to play like individuals, we will continue to struggle."

The Cowboys (16-5, 4-4 Big 12) have won the last 18 home matchups with the Cyclones (16-4, 4-4), including all 11 since the Big 12 was formed, though they're likely more concerned with their current stretch of three losses in four games after starting 3-1 in the conference.

In a 76-70 loss to Baylor on Saturday, Markel Brown scored a game-high 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting while fellow standout guard Marcus Smart went 3 of 14 - 0-for-7 from 3-point range - and finished with 15 points.

"We're playing in spurts right now," Brown said. "Sometimes, we get out there and relax and that's when the other team punches us in the mouth. I feel like we need to just go out there and play hard, never take a play off, battle the boards all night long, no matter how physical the other team has been, and get back out to pushing the ball and sharing it."

The Cyclones are looking for their third win in a four-game stretch against ranked opponents after beating then-No. 23 Oklahoma 81-75 Saturday in Ames. Georges Niang scored 27 points - he's averaging 21.8 points in his last four - while Melvin Ejim added 22 and matched a career high with 16 rebounds.

"This was a big one for us. For morale, for momentum, just to get back into it," said Ejim, who leads the conference with 18.1 points per game. "The Big 12 is a grind. It's the best conference right now, and every game is no joke."

It's been especially difficult on the road, where they've lost three straight, but Iowa State could be catching Smart at the right time with the preseason All American shooting 24.5 percent over his last four games.

Still, the Cowboys have four of the conference's top 18 scorers with Smart (17.2 points per game), Brown (16.9), Le'Bryan Nash (14.0) and Phil Forte (12.4).

"It's going to be a tough game," Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg said. "I hope we can build off of the last two wins we've had - Kansas State and (Oklahoma) - because we've made plays down the stretch when they've closed the gap to find a way to win. You obviously have to do that on the road. It's a big one. There's a lot of teams right now that got beat (Saturday), and if you go out and get one on the road, especially in Stillwater, that's certainly gaining one on the field."

Oklahoma State will be without reserve guard Stevie Clark, who was kicked off the team Tuesday. The freshman was arrested early Sunday on suspicion of outraging public decency - his second arrest in just over a month.

Clark, who was averaging 5.3 points and 2.7 assists, had already missed five games for violating team rules.

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