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Basketball Preview: We’re Talking Mount St. Mary’s

Iowa State’s quest for an undefeated season continues Monday night against the Mountaineers.

NCAA Basketball: Savannah State at Iowa State Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

If you enjoyed Friday’s home opener against Savannah State, you’ll likely enjoy Monday night’s tilt as well. It’s not always easy to derive intrigue or story lines from some of these early non-conference contests, but one nugget to watch for is the Mitrou-Long family reunion. Naz’s brother, Elijah, is the starting shooting guard for Mount St. Mary’s, and he’ll make his way to Hilton along with 20+ family and friends as the Mountaineers and Cyclones match up for the first time in program history.

Last Time Out

If you missed any of Iowa State’s season opening victory against the Tigers, allow me to redirect you to the most thorough coverage of the Cyclones’ 113-71 win. While that was happening, the Mountaineers were doing battle with some Mountaineers of their own, as they fell 87-59 at West Virginia in a matchup that featured 46 fouls and 49 free throws. Elijah Long stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, 5 boards and 4 assists in a very Naz-like fashion.

About Mount St. Mary’s

The Mountaineers finished fifth in the Northeast Conference last season and posted a record of 14-19 (10-8). Last year’s version of Mount St. Mary’s featured one of the least efficient offenses in the country, and that trait appears to have been passed on to this year’s team as they scored a measly 0.8 points per possession on Friday night in Morgantown.

What they lack in rebounding ability, they try to make up for in creating turnovers. They ended last year third in the country by forcing turnovers on nearly 25% of possessions. For reference, the only two teams better than Mount St. Mary’s at forcing turnovers last year were West Virginia and Stephen F. Austin. They were only able to ding West Virginia for 13, but Iowa State had 20 of their own on Friday night. If the Cyclones can’t get that cleaned up, this game could look even sloppier than the last.

While the turnover numbers are certainly impressive, the rest of the defense is less than stellar. They allowed West Virginia to shoot better than 53% from inside the arc and allowed Bob Huggins’ squad to rebound almost half of their misses. While they do have some height with 6’9” Mawdo Sallah and 6’10” Ryan Gomes, neither are offensive threats, and the duo combined for only six rebounds in their opener.

What to Expect

This game shouldn’t be close, and likely won’t be. There’s just too much of a talent disparity and if Iowa State can clean up some of the miscues from Friday night, this one could get ugly, quick.

There are some areas of improvement that I’d like to see from the Cyclones on Monday night. Specifically cleaning up the turnovers, making free throws, and shooting a bit better than 30% from long range. If they’re going to heave 20-25 three pointers per game this season, that percentage has to come up. Defensively, I’d love to see the Cyclones continue to generate turnovers and tighten up the defense in transition. Obviously that first game was a bit of an anomaly with 97 possessions, but if Iowa State is going to try and play that fast all season, they could get themselves in some real trouble when the competition starts heating up.

Kenpom predicts a 90-66 victory with a 99% win probability. I’m predicting the Hilton faithful will again be treated to free corndogs, and the Cyclones will win their 36th consecutive non-conference home game — the 3rd longest streak in the country.

Pick 3

  1. Iowa State hits double digit 3-pointers
  2. Seven Cyclones score double digits
  3. Stu doubles his season point total

#24 Iowa State - 108; Mount St. Mary’s - 60

Game Notes

Game Time: Monday, Nov. 14th, 7 pm CST

Line: Unavailable

TV/Webcast: (John Walters, Eric Heft)

Radio: Cyclone Radio Network/TuneIn Radio App Game Notes: Available here