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Basketball Preview: We’re Talking Oklahoma State Pt. 1

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Naz Long and Phil Forte star in a matchup of Perry Ellis All-Stars.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Oklahoma State Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa State and Oklahoma State seemingly always play close games with each other, and I would expect this season’s matchups to be more of the same. The all-time series between the two schools is tied 59-59, and while the last seven games have gone the way of the Cyclones, the average margin of victory in those games is just 5.1 points with two of the games needing at least one overtime period to determine a winner.

This is a matchup of middling offenses, youth vs. experience, and the best team in the nation at not turning the ball over against a team and coach that loves to pressure and force turnovers. It also pits two players on the Perry Ellis All-Star team in Phil Forte and Naz Mitrou-Long against each other in a battle for long range supremacy.

Last Time Out

On Saturday, Iowa State surged past Texas on the backs of Deonte Burton and Monte Morris, much like fans predicted in the preseason, but there were some extremely odd circumstances throughout the game. Merrill Holden never saw the floor, Naz got a technical foul on a missed dunk, and Iowa State shot free throws much like participants from the crowd in promotional contests.

The Cowboys are still looking for their first Big 12 win (so is Oklahoma), but they’ve been extremely pesky in taking Texas and Baylor to the wire on the road after losing their opener to West Virginia.

About Oklahoma State

I can’t pretend to be in the heads of OSU fans, but I would expect that many have been reinvigorated by what they’ve seen in Brad Underwood’s first season as head coach. The Cowboys 15th-ranked offense is ranked 138 spots higher than last year, and they’re forcing turnovers at the 5th-highest rate in the country on defense. The man often referred to as the brains behind Frank Martin’s best teams at Kansas State has led the Cowboys to wins over UConn, Georgetown and Wichita State in the non-conference, and currently has the Cowboys in about half of the projected NCAA Tournament brackets out at the moment.

They shoot well from behind the rainbow, get over 40% of available offensive boards, and excel at turning live ball turnovers into points in transition. They play fast and furious, just how Coach Underwood likes it. They have one of the younger teams in the country and feature one of the deeper benches. They don’t have a ton of size, and quite frankly, they don’t need it.

Players to Watch

Oklahoma State is led by the trio of Jawun Evans, Phil Forte, and Jeffrey Carroll. Evans leads the team in scoring (18.9 ppg), assists (5.1 apg), and steals (2.1 spg). Forte is one of the most prolific long-range shooters, and Carroll is one of the most efficient scorers in the country on the wing, shooting better than 64% inside the arc and 40% beyond while leading the team in rebounding at 7 boards per contest.

Thomas Dziagwa is a freshman that’s shooting 50% from deep coming off the bench. On the interior, Leyton Hammonds, Mitchell Solomon and Cameron McGriff are more defensive and rebounding pieces than offensive threats. But as we know, Iowa State isn’t strong in the post, can be taken advantage of by a guy like Hammonds and may struggle to keep these three off the boards.

What to Expect

I’m not sure if chaos is the right word to use — maybe frantic. Iowa State is at its best in transition and Oklahoma State is extremely comfortable playing fast. Iowa State’s halfcourt execution has been better of late, but still isn’t a strength. It’ll be interesting to see if the Cyclones look to run with the Cowboys or slow it down to try and protect the ball and limit possessions.

As has been stated earlier, Oklahoma State is 5th in the country at forcing turnovers and Iowa State is the best in the country at protecting the rock. The Cyclones are also more than adequate at forcing turnovers themselves and the Cowboys are susceptible to turnovers. In addition, OSU is also very good at attacking the offensive glass. Very similar to Cincinnati. Look at the offensive rebounding numbers and turnover rates of each team and you’ll be able to predict how this game might go.

Iowa State will need to force more turnovers than they give away, and if they can keep the Cowboys under 12-14 offensive rebounds, they’ll have a great chance to steal one on the road. Any road win in conference is a good one

Pick 3

  1. Forte goes for 20-plus.
  2. Iowa State struggles from deep, shooting less than 35%.
  3. Iowa State plays 25-plus minutes with four guards.

Iowa State - 74; Oklahoma State - 78

Game Notes

Game Time: Wednesday, January 11th, 8:00 p.m. CST

Line Open: Oklahoma State (-1); O/U (158)

The Foe: Cowboys Ride for Free

TV/Webcast: ESPNU (Clay Matvick, Tim Welsh)

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

Cyclones.com Game Notes: Available here