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Basketball Preview: We’re Talking Cincinnati

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The Bearcats come to Ames looking to avenge last year’s 81-79 loss to the Cyclones.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Following their first loss of the season, the Cyclones look to get back on track at home Thursday night against the Cincinnati Bearcats. If you somehow missed last year’s thrilling victory for the Clones, I’ve gone through the trouble of digging up KnowDan’s recap just for you. However, you only need to see this one highlight:

Last Time Out

We last saw Iowa State trying to mount a massive comeback against Gonzaga with a little help from Hilton Magic Southeast, but ultimately falling short. It was definitely a tale of two halves with ISU playing very poorly in the first half and extremely well in the second. Which Cyclones will show up today?

The 5-1 Bearcats last took to the court blowing out Lipscomb last Saturday. Cincinnati makes their way to Hilton Coliseum ‘ranked’ 28th, and one spot ahead of ISU in KenPom’s rankings at #26.

About Cincinnati

Cincinnati is the exact type of team that Iowa State has struggled with in the past and their statistical profile this year looks nearly identical to last year’s squad. The Bearcats are a slow paced, physical, defensive minded team with all of the size and length that gives teams like Iowa State fits. Mick Cronin’s team comes in ranked 13th in steal percentage, 2nd in block percentage and the 57th best team defense inside the arc - where Iowa State excels.

Offensively, Cincinnati excels in transition, typically off of live ball turnovers, and features an offense with lots of screening, cutting and player movement. They crash the offensive boards extremely well rebounding nearly 38% of their own misses. That’s a huge part of why this offense ranks 43rd nationally in efficiency. They shoot just a shade over 30% from behind the arc, but Caupain, Kevin Johnson and Jacob Evans are all capable of knocking down the triple if given time and space.

Players to Watch

In the front court, the Burton/Bowie/Holden trio will have their hands full with Kyle Washington and Gary Clark. Clark went for 10 points and 9 boards in last year’s matchup and Washington is a junior transfer from North Carolina State averaging 17 points and 9 boards on the young season.

There is one major familiar name in the Bearcats backcourt as well. Troy Caupain led the way for Cincinnati last year with 18 points and threw in 5 boards and 4 assists to boot. Most of Cincinnati’s major players from last year return to this year’s squad while Iowa State features quite a few new faces.

What to Expect

I have a hard team believing this game script will differ all that much from last year. Iowa State shot just 9-30 from deep (nearly identical to this year’s percentage), but managed to score 81 points on the back of 15 offensive rebounds. For as good as Cincinnati has been with their own offensive rebounding, they give up about 13 of opponent’s misses themselves, so if Iowa State sticks to what’s worked for them this season, history could repeat itself.

The major difference between the two sides this year is Iowa State’s improvement defensively. It’ll be interesting to see how that translates against a bigger, more physical lineup, but on the surface it looks like a recipe for a solid non-conference home win. I would look for Iowa State’s guards to play off the perimeter a bit to try and close passing lanes to the post. If the Cyclones can keep the ball from entering the post, they should be able to force contested shots on the perimeter. Controlled post doubling and closeouts on shooters will be instrumental to ensure a Cyclone victory.

Pick 3

  1. Iowa State matches the 15 offensive boards from last year
  2. Game has less than 70 possessions
  3. Iowa State shoots >40% from deep

#19 Iowa State - 73; Cincinnati - 65

Game Notes

Game Time: Thursday, Dec. 1st, 8:00 p.m. CST

Line: Iowa State -5; O/U - 139.5

The Foe: Down the Drive

TV/Webcast: ESPN/WatchESPN (Doug Sherman, Miles Simon)

Radio: Cyclone Radio Network/TuneIn Radio App (John Walters, Eric Heft)

Cyclones.com Game Notes: Available here