Ninth-ranked Iowa State (14-0, 2-0) doesn’t look like it can be beaten at home anytime soon. Baylor couldn’t run with them and eventually got blown out in the second half, a trend that most Cyclone opponents have followed.
With the players feeling great and every fan on cloud nine, everyone can’t wait until the students are back in class on Monday when ISU’s biggest conference rival, Kansas, comes into town for a Big Monday showdown.
That what makes this Saturday morning’s showdown against Oklahoma (12-3, 1-1) more interesting; this is the definition of a trap game.
(9)Iowa State Cyclones at Oklahoma Sooners
Lloyd Noble Center | Norman, Oklahoma
Time: Saturday, Jan. 11, 11:00 AM CT | TV: ESPNU
No one’s been able to run with Iowa State, but that will soon change. Oklahoma averages 75.5 possessions per game (excluding overtime) and average 87 points per game, which are both near the top in national rankings. They want a fast-paced game so they can get more possessions, and they aren’t afraid to take a 3-point shot. They have a 38.1 3-point field goal percentage, good for 58th nationally and nearly two percentage points better than the Cyclones.
The Sooners want a faster game to make for their atrocious defense. They give up 79.1 points and 36.3 rebounds per game, and to compound those issues, the team turns it over 12.5 times per game. At least their assist-to-turnover ratio is high at 1.18; some turnovers will come from passing the ball, but they usually make smart decisions on offense.
What to watch for
This will be Iowa State’s toughest matchup on defense yet. Oklahoma shoots incredibly efficiently (32nd nationally) and 194 total offensive rebounds. The majority of that action will come from leading rebounder Ryan Spangler, who has 44 offensive boards. If he gets position, then the Cyclones will likely face the short end of the rebounding totals once again if guards Cameron Clark and Buddy Hield can grab them off the glass too.
Since it’s not in the Cyclones’ DNA to slow things down, they just have to take smarter shots from behind the perimeter, force turnovers (especially with the pressure they forced on Baylor), and keep guys fresh. It will be very important for multiple bench players to step up.
DeAndre Kane will have to bring both of his games to Norman; he needs to both deliver a great offensive game and be a distributor, getting everybody involved. A solid goal for the Cyclones would be to get 20 or more assists if it becomes a track meet.
[Also see: 3 players to watch during ISU-OU]
A slow start is almost imminent for the Cyclones. Everything from the early start time to looking ahead will factor into this game no matter how hard Fred Hoiberg has prepared this team.
Even if they do have one, this is a perfect team to have a comeback on. Take away a terrible Texas A&M team and the Sooners have given up 91.5 points per game. That’s including 102 points to Louisiana Tech.
Oklahoma could have a brilliantly executed offensive game, but it will mean zilch if Iowa State puts up over 100. It will be close.
IAST 93, OKLA 86 (Odds: IAST -3)