We did it... We wanted Bama, we got Bama, and we beat Bama! The Iowa State Cyclones outgunned the Crimson Tide 84-74 in the semifinal round of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic to move onto the finals against the Maryland Terrapins.
The Opponent: Maryland
Tip: Tuesday, 8:30 p.m. CST - Sprint Center - Kansas City, Missouri
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network
Maryland SBN Site: Testudo Times
The Terrapins prevailed over Arizona State by a score of 78-73 on Monday in the other half of the tournament bracket to advance to Tuesday night's finals. Maryland's offense was powered by freshman guard Melo Trimble, who finished the game with 31 points. Trimble scored those points very efficiently as well, connecting on 7/11 field goals and 13/14 free throws in the win.
In their victory over the Sun Devils, Maryland's starting lineup included guys who stand 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5, 6-foot-9 and 6-foot-11. That's a pretty tall lineup overall, and will be a test for this Iowa State team that struggled to keep Alabama off the offensive glass. The Terrapins outrebounded the Sun Devils 34 to 24, while hauling in a whopping 13 offensive boards.
While the freshman Trimble had a monster game against ASU, Maryland's leading scorer so far this year has been senior guard Dez Wells. Wells is averaging a cool 16.8 ppg through the first four games of the season and is shooting 54% from the floor. The only other Terrapin starter averaging double digits in scoring is forward Jake Layman at 13.5 ppg.
This game will be another test for an Iowa State defense that has been average at best so far this year. Maryland does most of its damage in the backcourt, so matchups in this one will be key. Will Fred put the smaller, quicker Naz Long on Wells to chase him around, like he did against R.J. Hunter and Georgia State? Or will Bryce Dejean-Jones' length be used to disrupt Wells' offensive game?
Besides the 15 turnovers against Alabama, the Cyclones played a pretty good offensive game. The return of Matt Thomas was without a doubt the X-factor against the Crimson Tide, and ISU probably would have lost if it had been stuck with the rotation that was available for the first two regular season games.
Abdel Nader showed glimpses of what he can do in last night's win, but the junior was clearly rusty in his first competitive action in over a year. My expectation is that Nader will bounce back tonight and play a much better game.
Oh, by the way, how about that Georges Niang fella? 28 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists ain't too shabby...
And that Monte Morris guy? 12 assists, 6 rebounds, 0 turnovers? "Special" seems overused, but he's been the definition through the first three games.
While I'm at it, I should probably give Dustin Hogue his own paragraph too. Because, BEAST!
I see the key to tonight's tilt as simply eliminating some of the unforced errors that were made last night. If ISU can do that and keep Maryland off the offensive glass, the Cyclones should be able to outscore the turtles.
Iowa State 85 - Maryland 68
Editor's Note: It's two days before Thanksgiving, so if you want to start the holiday cheer a bit early then let's all play bingo together!