It's been seven days since Iowa State last took to the hardwood. Far too long if you ask me. Luckily, the curative powers of Hoiball return to Hilton Coliseum tonight to fill that week-long void in our basketball souls.The Cyclones welcome in Auburn as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. The 4-1 Tigers come to Ames, riding the wave of a three-game winning streak, but to date, Auburn has yet to play a team in the top 175 of Ken Pomeroy's team ratings, which includes a 111-92 loss to Northwestern State. On paper, this should be an easy win for ISU, but with big-time match ups against UNI and Iowa approaching, this could have the makings of a classic trap game.
What You Need To Know About Auburn
It's tough to really say that Auburn hasn't been tested, because when you have an "L" on your schedule, clearly you have, but when that "L" comes courtesy of Northwestern State and when you allow 111 points in that loss, well then brother, it's fair to say that Auburn just might not be very good. By no means is it a stretch to say that, either. This Auburn team finished dead freaking last in the SEC a season ago, losing their last 10 games and 15 of their last 16, ending the year with an abysmal 3-15 record in conference and 9-23 overall. Tigers' coach Tony Barbee, who was hired in 2010, has yet to post a winning record and with this being his fourth year on the Plains, his seat is getting hot. That's for Auburn fans to worry about, though.
Auburn is led by their back court duo of Chris Denson and K.T. Harrell. If Harrell's name sounds familiar, it's because he actually matched up against Iowa State in 2010 during Fred Hoiberg's first season in Ames and Melvin Ejim's freshman campaign. At the time, however, Harrell was playing for Virginia and he led the Cavaliers in scoring that day with 9 points. He and Denson are combining for over 38 points per game between the two of them and are the only Tigers averaging double figures.
Offensively, this isn't necessarily a bad team. They don't turn it over much, they get to the line and they shoot it well in the paint. Defensively, ISU is going to have to force Auburn to become a jump shooting team and by all means, let them shoot as much as they want from outside. The Tigers are only knocking down 24.7% of their threes, which is easily one of the worst clips in the country.
On the other side of the ball, opponents are making 41.2% of their threes against Auburn, which is also one of the worst marks in the country. Sounds like open season from deep to me boys.
Somebody Remind Me, Do We Hate Auburn?
I honestly don't even remember. December 2008 was so long ago. I don't think we ever really hated Auburn, did we? It was always that worthless excuse for a head coach, Gene Chizik. Fuck him.
Final Verdict: I can't think of Auburn without thinking of Gene Chizik, so yes, I suppose I do kind of hate Auburn.
So What's Going To Happen?
Like I said, I am a little worried about Iowa State's mindset coming into this game. After thoroughly dominating UMKC and with the Big 4 Classic game against UNI on Saturday, I fully expect Iowa State to be in a battle throughout the first half. Auburn has an athletic front court and guards that attack the basket and can get to the rack.
Then again, I can see The Mayor tricking his guys into thinking that Auburn is better than they are because they play in a Big 6 conference, leading to a thorough butt trouncing.
Really though, I suppose it doesn't really matter how it happens, but Iowa State will take a double-digit lead at some point and win this one comfortably. Ken Pomeroy is predicting an 86-67 Iowa State win. That score doesn't look too far off from what I'm thinking. Another big win for Iowa State and the Cyclones will be sitting at 6-0 on Tuesday morning.
Iowa State 85 - Auburn 70
Tip: 6 PM CST
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network
Cyclones.com game notes can be found here
Auburn SBN's Site: College and Magnolia (you might be shocked by this, but they're not really talking basketball right now)
As always, leave your thoughts about the game and predictions in the comments and we'll see you back here later tonight for the game thread.