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Basketball Preview: We’re Talking Oklahoma Pt. 1

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Iowa State travels to Norman to face the surging Sooners

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Oklahoma Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Alright everyone, I’m back. Thank you to my colleagues that filled in on these previews in my absence. I missed the last three games and have been furiously rewatching those games since my return. So how are we feeling collectively as a fan base?

In the span of the last six days, the Cyclones have gone from the prospect of playing for the Big 12 lead to 0.500 in league play. Meanwhile, the Sooners are surging after the return of Jordan Woodard to the lineup. Oklahoma played well against Kansas at home and snapped a 7-game losing streak by winning at home against Texas Tech and at West Virginia.

These two teams are seemingly headed two different directions, and what recently looked like a “bad loss” opportunity for the Clones is now a chance to pick up a top-50 location adjusted win. The 8-9 Sooners are ranked 9th in the Big 12 (61st overall), ahead of 5 B1G teams, 4 ACC teams, 4 Big East teams, 7 SEC teams, and 6 Pac 12 teams. There are simply no days off in this conference. Here’s to hoping OU takes a Spangler this afternoon.

Last Time Out

It’s been more than five days since we saw the Cyclones fall short on their homecourt against Kansas in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score may have indicated. Meanwhile, Oklahoma was out beating West Virginia in overtime, in Morgantown on Wednesday night on the back of Jordan Woodard and 48 points in the paint, which could prove problematic for the Cyclones today.

About Oklahoma

Oklahoma does much of its damage offensively in the painted area, however, they do it in the same ways Iowa State has to do it - with their guards. All three of their leading scorers are 6’6” or smaller with Jordan Woodard carrying the load at 17.7 points per contest. The trio of Jordan Woodard, Rashard Odomes and Christian James average a combined 36 points per game with 24 of those coming inside the arc.

They’re able to get the ball inside via dribble penetration and cutting off of guards pressuring passing lanes because while they don’t shoot many 3’s (314th nationally) they do make almost 38% as a team from long range (61st).

Defensively, Khadeem Lattin is the rim protector and all too familiar name for Iowa State fans. He blocks 10% of the shots that come his way (32nd) and he, along with front court mate Kristian Doolittle pace the team with more than 5.5 board per game each.

The Sooners sport the 52nd ranked defense and 105th ranked offense and play very similar to Iowa State in terms of tempo. The key will be whether or not Iowa State can turn Oklahoma over. The Sooners average more than 14 turnovers per game, but were able to limit that to only 12 in Morgantown on Wednesday. Iowa State needs to force turnovers to negate their disadvantage on the boards.

Players to Watch

For Oklahoma, it’s Jordan Woodard - plain and simple. The senior guard for OU is averaging 17.7 points, 5.8 boards, and 3.2 assists while shooting 39% from deep. If Iowa State cannot pester him, OU’s offense is capable and efficient. Look for Iowa State to try and frustrate Woodard and force role players to step up.

For Iowa State, it’s the Monte Morris and Deonte Burton duo. The two have combined to shoot 50.8% from the field in Iowa State’s wins and just 37.7% from the field in the Cyclones’ losses. Iowa State needs its senior leaders to be good - especially on the road. If their shots aren’t falling, they need to be efficient at picking their spots and creating for others, not just throwing up contested shots - especially from mid range.

What to Expect

I would venture to guess this game will be uncomfortable for Cyclone fans. Losing to an 8-9 squad on the road will never be looked at as a “good loss” even if the metrics say Oklahoma is better than their record indicates. Sure the Sooners are improving and getting healthy again, but to be honest, the Selection Committee doesn’t give a damn about any of that.

As always, the formula for success in the Big 12 is to protect the home court and try to steal as many as possible on the road. The Cyclones are even in the Floyd Standings, but have an opportunity to pick one up here. This team plays nothing but close games and I would expect this to be no different.

Pick 3

  1. Iowa State gets outrebounded by 10+
  2. Woodard, Odomes, James outscore Burton, Morris, Mitrou-Long
  3. Solomon Young plays 8+ minutes

Iowa State - 74; Oklahoma - 77

Game Notes

Game Time: Saturday, January 21st, 1:00 p.m. CST

Line Open: Iowa State (-2); O/U (146.5)

The Foe: Crimson and Cream Machine

TV/Webcast: ESPN2/WatchESPN (Bob Wischusen, Fran Fraschilla)

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

Cyclones.com Game Notes: Available here