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Basketball Preview: We’re Talking Mississippi Valley State

Cyclones look to win final tune-up before starting Big 12 play.

NCAA Basketball: Drake at Iowa State Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve seen the Cyclones play ten games so far this season, and this will be the last time we see them for ten days as Texas Tech looms on December 30th. While this game shouldn’t be a test in any way shape or form, the happenings at Hilton Coliseum on Tuesday evening should give fans enough highlights to hold on to for the next ten days.

Last Time Out

Iowa State didn’t quite ease the collective panic level of the fan base on Saturday against Drake in the Hy-Vee Big Four Classic, but at the end of the day they left with a 17-point win, 97-80. The offensive performance comes largely from the hot hand of Naz Mitrou-Long who went off for 37 points on 14-18 (8-12) shooting. It was a sight for sore eyes, as the senior leader went on to win Big 12 POW honors.

Players not named Monte Morris and Naz Mitrou-Long shot just 13/47 (27.7%), including Deonte Burton’s 1/9 and Matt Thomas’ 2/11 efforts. That won’t be good enough come Big 12 play, and continues to leave unanswered questions regarding Iowa State’s offense.

About Mississippi Valley State

I wasn’t sure there would be a less fun team to preview than Drake, but here we are. The Delta Devils come into this matchup at 0-11 with all but one game being double digit losses. They have yet to play a home game and Kenpom has them ranked as the 9th worst team in Division 1 ball.

MVSU touts the 10th worst offense and 23rd worst defense in Division 1 and do not rank in the top 100 of any major statistical category except for 2-point shooting percentage. The problem is that just 39% of their offense comes inside the arc which is 6th worst in country. They’re one of the slowest offensive teams, and fastest defensive teams. So if Iowa State pushes the ball at every opportunity, they should win this game by 30.

I’ve been a proponent for most of the season that Iowa State fans shouldn’t panic, yet, but if this game is knotted with six minutes to go as it was against Drake, it would definitely increase my personal panic meter.

Players to Watch

I’m going to do something a little different here. MVSU has 13 players playing more than 12% of possessions. Isaac Williams will be a player to watch on the perimeter and Amos Given is their biggest interior threat.

However, I’m going to recommend that Iowa State fans keeps their eyes on Deonte Burton. Burton is Iowa State’s highest usage player, and his true shooting percentage is down 11% from last year. His offensive rating is the lowest of any Iowa State starter and his FT rate is less than half of what it was last year. I don’t think these statistics are unrelated.

Look to see if Burton is attacking the rim and staying aggressive offensively. If he’s settling for jump shots, he tends to struggle, and there’s plenty of evidence that when he’s struggling offensively, he’s also struggling defensively and on the glass. Iowa State needs an aggressive and energetic Burton to be successful this season.

What to Expect

I honestly have no idea. I expect this game to go a lot like the Savannah State game to tip off the season in terms of tempo and transition opportunities. I expect Iowa State to win, and win big. However, with this team it’s almost impossible to know what you’re going to get each time they step on the floor.

The guys get over a week off before Texas Tech comes to town which would give them a chance to clear their heads, get away for a bit and also get in some quality practice work to prepare for conference play. Because of this, I would expect them to blow off some steam and take out some frustration on one of the worst teams in the country. Then again, they could just be looking ahead to the time off and struggle the first half before finishing them off in the second. Who really knows at this point?

Pick 3

  1. Iowa State cracks the century mark for the 3rd time this season
  2. Iowa State pushes to get more than 75 possessions again
  3. 4 different Cyclones dunk

Iowa State - 105; Mississippi Valley State - 72

Game Notes

Game Time: Tuesday Dec. 20th, 6:00 p.m. CST

Line: Unavailable (Kenpom: Iowa State 88-57)

TV/Webcast: (John Walters, Eric Heft)

Radio: Cyclone Radio Network/TuneIn Radio App (John Walters, Eric Heft) Game Notes: Available here