Teammates 'happy' for Bubu Palo

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State held a players-only meeting designed to diagnose what's gone wrong as the No. 16 Cyclones have lost three games in a row and are faced with the distractions caused by the return of guard Bubu Palo.

"We just got a lot of stuff off our chest that we felt we needed to talk about," forward Georges Niang said.

After winning 14 games in a row, Iowa State (14-3, 2-3 Big 12) has lost three straight for the first time in three years. The Cyclones have fallen 2½ games behind league-leading Kansas, and they dropped eight spots to No. 16 in this week's Top 25.

Meanwhile, Palo, who had been found to have violated Iowa State's student code of conduct and was kicked off the team following a sexual assault charge that was later dropped, has been granted a temporary stay that allowed him to rejoin the Cyclones over the objections of athletic director Jamie Pollard.

Coach Fred Hoiberg said Monday he had a "very brief" meeting with Palo on Saturday and haven't spoken since.

Cyclones players insist Palo's reurn is not an issue and that that they're ready to welcome him back.

"We're going to let coach (Hoiberg) handle Bubu. He's on our team now. We want him to be back on our team. You know, we missed him," senior point guard DeAndre Kane said. "We're happy for him. We know he's excited to be back on the team."

Palo averaged just 2.8 points a game last season and hasn't practiced with the team in months.

Iowa State has a week to prepare for Saturday's home game against No. 22 Kansas State.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.