The Kansas State Wildcats (11-7, 4-1 Big 12) take their conference leading 4-1 record on the road to Ames, IA to face off against the Hilton Magic wielding (9/12) Iowa State Cyclones (13-3, 3-1 Big 12). The Cyclones come into this mid-week tilt fresh off a huge victory over the Kansas Jayhawks. Naz Long, or as our WRNL friends like to call him "3sus" led the way for the Cyclones pouring in 20 points on 7-12 shooting, including 3-6 from long distance.
Kansas State is fresh off their own upset win, coming back from 14 points down to defeat the Baylor Bears. This game finally featured the heart and effort Kansas State fans have been looking for all season from this team. Check out TheBigE's recap of the wild win.
Know Your Opponent
Somehow picked to finish 5th in the Big 12 Preseason poll, Iowa State has already shown that was a terrible prediction. Three close victories against Oklahoma State, on the road at West Virginia, and Kansas shows the power of the Cyclones this season. This is a team who can challenge Kansas at the top of the Big 12 standings, especially if Fred Hoiberg can convince his team to lock in on the defensive end.
Offensive is certainly not a problem for the 'Clones, whose Adjusted Offensive Efficiency is a scorching 113.9 good for 15th in the country. Their eFG% is ranked 11th in the country at 55.9, while they shoot a scintillating 57.1% on two point FGs. Their biggest area of weakness is on the offensive glass where Iowa State ranks a paltry 273rd in Offensive Rebounding, averaging 27.9%.
The popular narrative for this Cyclones team is that they do not play defense, but the advanced stats would argue with that line of thinking. Iowa State sports a Top 50 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, at 93.8. They also hold teams to an eFG% of 46.3 good for a Top 100 ratings. They do allow a high percentage on opponents three point shooting at 45.4%.
Keep a close watch on:
Georges Niang, and Jameel McKay. Niang plays like a poor mans Tim Duncan using his basketball knowledge to kill you with angles and savvy rather than sheer athleticism. McKay might be the complete opposite, using his freak athleticism to destroy shots at the rim. Niang currently leads the team in ppg with 14.9, while also averaging 5.4rpg, and 3.5apg. McKay, meanwhile, averages 2.7bpg, 5rpg, and 9ppg.
Kansas State Wildcats:
F Nino Williams, 6-5 220 Sr
F Thomas Gipson, 6-7 265 Sr
F Wesley Iwundu, 6-7 205 So
G Marcus Foster, 6-3 210 So
G Jevon Thomas, 6-0 185 So
Iowa State Cyclones:
C Jameel McKay, 6-9 215 Jr
F Byce Dejean-Jones, 6-6 210 Sr
F Georges Niang, 6-8 230 Jr
G Naz Long, 6-4 210 Jr
G Monte Morris, 6-2 170 So
3 Keys To The Game
This game will mostly likely come down to who can dictate the tempo. Iowa State ranks 16th in the country in Adjusted Tempo, while Kansas State ranks 304th. Kansas State used their slow style of play to limit possession and thus scoring chances for opponents and it has helped their defense to hold opponents under 70 in 12 straight games. Meanwhile, Iowa State has only been held under 70 points three times this season. Two of which were losses to Maryland, and South Carolina. Their other under 70 game was a two point victory against Oklahoma State, which had two looks at the end of the game to tie or win. If Kansas State is able to hold them to under 70 I like their chances.
2. Blocking Out
As mentioned above the Cyclones are not a good offensive rebounding team, and Kansas State will need do everything they can to not give them second chance opportunities. This has been a problem all season for Kansas State, however, as they rank 153rd in allowing offensive rebounds. Look for Thomas Gipson and Stephan Hurt to have big offensive rebounds. If they don't, the 'Cats could be in for a long night in Iowa.
3. Don't Beat Yourself
Hilton is arguably the second toughest place to play in the Big 12 behind Allen Fieldhouse, and with a team that struggled to win on the road in non-conference play that type of atmosphere could cause major problems. Kansas State will need to have the kind of focus they showed at Oklahoma in order to win at Iowa State, and even then it might not be enough. Basically, Kansas State will need to play a virtually flawless game if it hopes to knock of the Cyclones in Hilton.
All stats by http://www.kenpom.com, or by the respective university's sports information.