In just a span of a week, both Iowa State (14-2, 2-2) basketball programs went 0-4 after starting off the season 28-0. Reality hit that it’s incredibly difficult to go undefeated in basketball after the first losses, but then deeper analysis went into the additional loss.
Things are a little opposite for Texas (13-4, 2-2). They improved with two straight victories in conference play, a huge rebound from their 0-2 start and even worse overall start to the season. Dominating in size, they’ll continue to give Iowa State fits on the glass until the Cyclones are able to come up with a gameplan to stop it.
(8)Iowa State Cyclones vs Texas Longhorns
Frank Erwin Center | Austin, Texas
Tip-off: Saturday, Jan 18, 3:00 PM CT | TV: Big 12 Network (affiliate list)
For the men’s team, it all comes down to shooting efficiency. The higher percentage the Cyclones can nail shots, the better their chances of winning. Obviously that sounds like common sense, but Texas poses a big threat like Baylor did with the frontcourt.
Iowa State will again have trouble rebounding; Texas averages 42.2 rebounds per game (ninth nationally). The duo of Jonathan Holmes and Cameron Ridley average 7.3 rebounds per game combined, and both Demarcus Holland‘s athleticism and Prince Ibeh‘s size have led to 4.9 and 3.9 rpg, respectively.
The only way for the Cyclones to neutralize that size is to be extremely efficient on the offensive end and capitalize on turnovers with easy fast break baskets.
DeAndre Kane is still recovering from an ankle sprain, and anything he can contribute both on offense and on the glass for the Cyclones will be a bonus. He’ll be needed if some of the frontcourt again goes through struggles. Melvin Ejim seemed to be the only one that attacked the basket toward the end of the Kansas game and didn’t settle for just long perimeter shots.
Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg has decided to stick with Naz Long in the starting position and keep Matt Thomas coming off the bench. The two position is a completely wide-open race, and somebody needs to step up and make shots to earn that start.
- 27th overall meeting (Texas leads series 16-10)
- Iowa State has just one win in Texas (92-80 in overtime) back in 2005, which snapped a 28-game road conference losing streak.
- Fred Hoiberg is just 2-4 against the Longhorns as a head coach.
[Also see: ISU-TEX broadcast information]
What to watch for
Ball movement is Texas’ biggest weakness. It affects both the ability to create easy shots and the Longhorns have turned the ball over a ton when playing decent opponents.
Currently, Texas averages 13.4 turnovers per game (97th nationally) and 12.4 assists (217th nationally). They give up more assists on average nationally and have a negative assist-to-turnover ratio.
Javan Felix has been playing well, but clearly there isn’t as much depth as there is in the frontcourt for Texas, who usually like to build with big guys inside the perimeter.
That will make another tough day of work for both Georges Niang and Dustin Hogue, who have both struggled offensively in the two losses. Hogue is starting to get beat in his matchups, something that didn’t happen before and almost pulled down 10-plus boards with ease. And it feels like Niang’s burst of multiple 20-plus-point games seems like it was ages ago.
Shooting from 3-point range would do Texas in. West Virginia went 4-of-25 at home from beyond the arch and nearly lost by single digits. Doesn’t that sound familiar?
[Also see: 3 players to watch during ISU-TEX]
This isn’t a favorable matchup for Iowa State, but they have the arsenal to get this victory. If the shooting doesn’t improve and Texas has an early advantage on the boards, especially with second-chance points, it could set a bad tone and deal the Cyclones their third straight loss.
I don’t believe that will happen. Hoiberg’s goal is to make this team think about the next game only, and that loss to Oklahoma last Saturday was not because they were looking ahead to Kansas. They’ll be very focused after nearly a whole week off, and it’s felt like a week since they last played.
As long as Iowa State can hold the Longhorn’s field goal percentage around its average (44.7 percent, 162nd nationally) and create turnovers that lead to fast break offense, they should have enough offense to overcome a small disadvantage on the boards. They’ve only done it once before, but they’ll edge a close game out.
IAST 77, TEX 76 (Odds: TEX +1.5)