Iowa State (16-4, 4-4) stopped the bleeding with a revenge victory over Oklahoma, ending a 1-4 skid and improving to 10-1 at home. Not many teams know how imperative home-court advantage is like the Cyclones do; nearly every game is a must-win at home because it’s always a struggle to win on the road.
That’s exactly the case here, where ISU has lost the last 18 meetings against Oklahoma State (16-5, 4-4) away from Hilton Coliseum. The Cowboys also have a 10-1 record at home, but like the Cyclones, they’ve only been able to muster a 4-4 conference record.
It’s going to be hard to catch up to Kansas who has just one loss in Big 12 play, but the loser of this game will likely be out of contention to grab the conference crown.
(16)Iowa State Cyclones vs (19)Oklahoma State Cowboys
Gallagher-Iba Arena | Stillwater, Oklahoma
Date: Monday, February 3rd, 2014
Tip-off: 8:00 PM CT | TV: ESPN
Oklahoma State has failed to grab control of the Big 12 since league play started. Excluding TCU, their most dominant win was against Texas in the second game of the conference season. Since then, they’re 3-3 and have lost three of their last four games. The loss at Oklahoma is nothing to scoff at with how good they’ve played, but they put Baylor on life support to help end the Bears’ five-game skid.
Iowa State matches up well despite all the talent Oklahoma State has. Like the Cyclones, the Cowboys don’t rebound well allowing 36.6 opponent rebounds per game (279th nationally). Also, Iowa State averages four more assists than OSU. Both teams shoot the ball and take care of the ball well; they’re ranked in the top three in the Big 12 (ISU has second in both field goal percentage and turnovers per game).
Everyone knows how important this game is. Even though the loser will still mathematically be in the Big 12 race, realistically it’s hard for any team to win it with five losses and a month to go in the regular season.
Iowa State is 54-63 all-time against Oklahoma State. They haven’t won a game in Stillwater since March 2nd, 1998, with a 97-88 victory. However, since Fred Hoiberg‘s taken over, things have improved. The last two games were decided by two points while in 2011, the Cyclones forced overtime before falling 96-87.
What to watch for
Obviously, Marcus Smart (sophomore guard, 6-foot-4, 220 lbs.) will be a key player to watch on Oklahoma State. He’s rebounded well after his horrible 1-for-7 night from the field against West Virginia, the first game he’s fouled out of this season and second in his career (last year against Kansas). He had 37 points combined in his last two games, but has hit a dreadful 3-of-18 from 3-point range.
One player that’s found their rhythm from 3-point range is OSU’s Markel Brown (senior guard, 6-foot-3, 190 lbs.), who hit 6-of-8 3-pointers in the loss to Baylor last Saturday. In the two games previous to that, Brown hit just one and was 1-of-12 from downtown.
Iowa State’s Georges Niang (sophomore forward, 6-foot-7, 240 lbs) has found his rhythm at the right time. Both him and DeAndre Kane have been running the Cyclones’ offense, and he reached a career-high 27 points in the win over Oklahoma. He’s hit approximately 60 percent of his shots in the last two games (20-of-33) and 6-of-14 from 3-point range. Last season as a freshman, Niang averaged 17 points per game against Oklahoma State.
The last three games Iowa State has played in Stillwater have been terrific, and this one should be another one to add on the list with what’s at stake. Conference play gets a little easier for Iowa State getting the bulk of the top teams in January, but they can’t let up just yet.
It will be very interesting to see how these teams match up on the court. Obviously, Oklahoma State hasn’t played as well as everybody thought, but neither has Iowa State after their 13-0 start. With the Cyclones not having to worry about being dominated on the glass, the key stat will be what team can control rebounding and obtain second chance points.
If Iowa Statecan get an edge in that department along with keeping up with what they’re good at (dishing out assists, not turning the ball over, and shooting well from the field), they’ll be victorious in Gallagher-Iba Arena. That will happen, and the long losing skid in Stillwater ends tonight.
IAST 86, OKST 84 (Odds: IAST +7, over 157)