Last Thursday's demolition of then #18 Arkansas marked the half-way point of Iowa State's non conference schedule. With foes like Georgia State, Alabama, Maryland and the Razorbacks now in the rear view mirror, the schedule does lighten up for the Cyclones with four of the next six opponents sitting in the bottom 100 of Ken Pomeroy's rankings, starting with Tuesday night's foe, UMKC.
The other two opponents in that mix present the only real competition left between now and the start of conference play. Iowa State will travel to Iowa City to take on Iowa on Friday night and will battle in Brooklyn in the Barclays Center against a suddenly more daunting South Carolina team, who's hot off a 75-49 drubbing of Oklahoma State.
We'll get to those next two opponents in due time, but for now, Fred Hoiberg and crew will turn their attention to the Kangaroos of Missouri-Kansas City.
The 'Roos got off to a shocking start, knocking off Missouri in Columbia in their opener (M-I-Z...L-O-L), but they weren't done there as they next traveled to Manhattan and gave Bruce Weber's Wildcats all they could handle. UMKC actually led Kansas State 40-36 at the break and trailed by just 6 with just over two minutes left in the game before losing by 10.
That two-game stretch pretty much was the high mark of UMKC's season as they've gone just 2-5 since, dropping contests left and right to anyone that has a pulse (and I use the term "pulse" very loosely as it's debatable if Arkansas-Little Rock, Samford, Youngstown State, Milwaukee and South Dakota State do in fact have anything resembling a "pulse").
If anything, UMKC has shown their true colors since that opening week and Iowa State should have little trouble rolling the 'Roos on Tuesday night.
UMKC has pretty much been a one-man show offensively as Martez Harrison is the only player on the team averaging double figures in scoring. The 5'11" lead man is featured on about 32% of UMKC's possessions and coincidentally takes about 32% of the team's shots. His shooting splits aren't great (40/29.7/70.5), which would suggest that he's a volume shooter in every sense of the term.
The Kangaroos don't have much size and 6'8" Shayock Shayock (the playa so nice they named him twice), is the only real threat inside. He's the team's second leading scorer (8.8 PPG) and is leading UMKC in rebounding at a clean seven boards a night.
This team has really struggled to put the ball in the basket recently, scoring 70 or more points only once in their last six games, though that came against William Jewell, who's not even a division-1 team. Unfortunately, UMKC doesn't have a defense to hang their hat on as opponents have an effective field goal percentage against them of 54.8%, which ain't good.
So Who Wins?
There is a thought that suggests that UMKC might play to the level of their competition and when they see the big name on the front of the jersey, they bring their A-game. Then again, Hilton Coliseum is the house where plucky low-majors have their spirit broken, crushed and simply swept away.
UMKC should be familiar with this. After all, it was only last season that Iowa State won by an astounding 59 points in a 110-51 ass-trouncing of the Kangaroos. Perhaps the best stat of that game is that Percy Gibson, Tyler Ellerman, K.J. Bluford and Sherron Dorsey-Walker combined for 31 points (led by SDW's 17, though Ellerman chipped in a resourceful 5 points of his own).
Iowa State likely won't put together that type of margin of victory on Tuesday night, but it should be light work for the starters, none of which will see more than 20 minutes or so of action. Instead, look for The Mayor to work in heavy doses of Abdel Nader, Daniel Edozie and Matt Thomas in an effort to get them as many quality minutes as possible heading into Friday's game in Iowa City, where they could all see big time off the bench, especially if foul trouble becomes an issue for any of Iowa State's starters.
The game itself won't be much of a watch, but the game within the game could be interesting as Hoiberg continues to tinker with certain line ups and offensive sets. But if you're just looking for a solid thumping, well, you'll get that too.
Iowa State 97 - UMKC 65
Tip: 6:00 PM CST
TV: ESPNU, with my main man, Mitch Holthus (TOUCHDOWN! KANSAS CITY!) on play-by-play and Kevin Lehman providing color, in a metaphorical sense of course.
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network - Football season is over and I dare you to find two men in the entire Cyclone fan base that are happier about it than John Walters and Eric Heft.
Webcast: If you're into such fancies, then WatchESPN is your friend here.
Cyclones.com Game Notes: Available here