Men’s hoops on hiatus till 2010

Iowa State’s men’s basketball team has almost two weeks off before playing again Jan. 3 at home against Houston.

The Cyclones are 9-3, with non-conference games still to go against the Cougars, Duke (Jan. 6) and North Dakota State (Jan. 9). They’ve been dominant in their victories, with each of the wins coming by 10 or more points, the most double-digit victories in a season since 2004-05.

Losses to Northwestern and Northern Iowa — NCAA Tournament hopefuls themselves — by a combined five points were disappointing and could count against ISU come March.

Here are some of the highlights, stats and facts from the season so far:

— ISU has scored 80 points or more seven times this season. It happened just once during 2008-09.

— Marquis Gilstrap has lived up to the hype so far with averages of 14.7 points and 8.9 rebounds a game. He’s had five double-doubles and scored in double figures in 11 of 12 games.

— The Cyclones came into Tuesday’s game with North Dakota shooting 44.3 percent from 3-point range, tops in the Big 12 and fourth nationally.

— Lucca Staiger set a new school record and tied for second all-time in Big 12 single-game history with 10 3-pointers in a 90-70 win at Drake.

— The bench is averaging 24.5 points a game, a far cry from depth issues and limited options Coach Greg McDermott has had during his previous three seasons.

— All-Big 12 candidate Craig Brackins is the team’s leading scorer (17.5 ppg) and 3-point shooter (13 of 22; 59.1%) and second-leading rebounder (8.1 rpg) and passer (34 assists).

— Sophomore big man Justin Hamilton is shooting 78.6 percent (22 of 28) on field goals.

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