With the big monkey off our back - a first Big 12 win this season - attention turns to yet another ranked opponent. This time, the Kansas State Wildcats (11-5, 1-3 Big12, #38 kenpom, #46 RPI) stays home this weekend to go toe-to-toe with the Iowa State Cyclones. Tipoff is scheduled for 3:00pm CST in Manhattan.
Know Your Opponent
Iowa State (12-4, 1-3 Big12, #26 kenpom, #24 RPI) is approaching this season with a brand new head coach in Steve Prohm, after McDreamy, aka The Mayor, aka Fred Hoiberg eschewed Ames for the allure of the NBA stage. Based on preseason expectations, things aren't going as smoothly as planned.
The Cyclones tripped up against Northern Iowa (the same UNI team that also took down North Carolina) as their lone non-con blemish, but have dropped road games to Oklahoma and Texas, a home game to Baylor, and were down to Texas Tech at home late before storming back to steal the victory.
They return many key components from last year's team, but just seem to lack the focus or defensive execution to truly fall among the nation's elite. Losing Nazareth Mitrou-Long cuts the Cyclone's rotation down to a total of seven players that average more than 3-1/2 minutes a game, so depth also appears to be a problem.
Keep a close watch on:
Georges Niang - the 6-8 senior do-it-all forward - is still the focus of the Cyclone offense. He's averaging 19.9ppg, 6.7rpg, 3.3apg, and shooting 55%/40%/83% on the season. He's not quick, but he's got that infuriating style where he just knows how to get it done.
The inside is pretty well protected by Jameel McKay. McKay is the type of player that could give us fits inside - long, athletic and very quick off the floor. He's averaging 14.2ppg, 9.2rpg, almost a block and a half a game, and actually shoots better from the floor (58%) than the free throw line (56%).
Everyone's got the green light to shoot a three other than McKay, but Matt Thomas is connecting at 41.3% and has hoisted 92 on the season. Gotta know where he is on the floor.
I have to keep this short, so here goes nothing: Iowa State is going to look to push the ball in transition, but in the half court set, they're going to move the ball well to find mid-range jumpers and threes. They're one of the worst in the country in getting to the line, and below average in offensive rebounding. K-State must close out to shooters; a simple touch on a box-out will probably be good enough to secure rebounds.
Defensively, this is not a great team. The one thing they don't do is foul - they're the best in the nation in sending opponents to the line. Expect a lot of zone, with some man-to-man mixed in. We should get some open shots - we've got to hit them like we did against Tech.
F Wesley Iwundu, 6-7 210 Jr
F Dean Wade, 6-10 225 Fr
F Stephen Hurt, 6-11 265 Sr
G Justin Edwards, 6-4 200 Sr
G Kamau Stokes, 6-0 170 Fr
Iowa State Cyclones
F Abdel Nader, 6-6 225 Sr
F Jameel McKay, 6-9 225 Sr
F Georges Niang, 6-8 230 Sr
G Monte Morris, 6-3 175 Jr
G Matt Thomas, 6-4 297 Jr
3 Keys To The Game
Don't let down because we picked up one win, and don't think Iowa State will roll over because they're on the road. We're going to have to bring it today to come away with a victory, but if we build off the win against Texas Tech, it's not only possible, it's completely plausible.
2. Make some shots.
I'll just leave this right here from Tuesday:
It's too simple to just say, "make some more shots," but that's the reality. How to do that? Run the offense. Work for those shots. Know that with a high level of execution and ball movement, open shots will become a reality. Open buckets usually go in; the problem is that we've been doing such a poor job of working to find those open shots. When you're not shooting well, find cheap buckets. Crash the boards hard and get some putbacks. Turn up the defensive pressure and come up with a steal and runout. Attack the rim and draw some fouls for trips to the charity stripe.
3. Guard the three.
We've given up the long shot at a higher rate lately; we need to get back to closing out on shooters and protecting that arc. Iowa State can legitimately shoot the three from almost every position. Keeping the Cyclones at or under 35% for the game will be important.
All stats by http://www.kenpom.com, or by the respective university's sports information.