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Basketball Preview: We’re Talking Texas Pt. 1

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Iowa State looks to rebound against the Longhorns.

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

It’s been quite a week for Iowa State basketball after taking the presumptive number one team to the wire on the road and the news of Cameron Lard’s arrival in Ames. While much has happened, I’m not sure much has changed.

Iowa State has yet to really settle on much of a rotation and is counting on Coach Prohm to find the magic five every game, shot selection has improved, but is still extremely questionable at times, late game situations have been a mess, and the defense remains solid. Does anyone really know what to expect with this team anymore? Here’s to hoping for a #nice win.

Last Time Out

As previously mentioned, Iowa State traveled to Waco Wednesday night and gave the #2 team everything they could handle before faltering late and losing 65-63. Meanwhile the Longhorns were able to pick up their first Big 12 win of the season by taking down the surprising Oklahoma State Cowboys 82-79.

About Texas

Shaka Smart and the Longhorns field one of the nation’s youngest teams, which might help explain the disappointing 7-7 start to the season for the preseason Big 12’s number three team. There’s definitely talent on the roster, but there have been some growing pains thus far including losses to Northwestern, UT-Arlington, and Kent State.

Most of the struggles have come on offense as the Longhorns field a top-50 defense, but an offense that sits outside the top-150 on Kenpom. They shoot just 29.4% from three point range as a team, and just 67.1% from the charity stripe. Texas is led by sophomore winger, Tevin Mack at 15.2 points per contest, while sophomore Kerwin Roach Jr. and highly touted freshman Jarrett Allen are the only two other Horns averaging double figures.

Players to Watch

6’11” freshman, Jarrett Allen has been a bit up and down offensively this season, but is definitely a factor in the paint, averaging 8 points and almost a block and a half per game. While he’s not Johnathan Motley, he’s definitely a presence that Iowa State will have to account for.

Outside of that, the Longhorns may be one of the easier teams for Iowa State to match up with in terms of size. Shaq Cleare at Tevin Mack have some length at 6’8” and 6’7” respectively, but the Horns are fairly guard dominant - similar to Iowa State.

Tevin Mack is the only Texas player shooting better than 30% from deep on the season, so I would expect Iowa State to use the compacted defense we saw against Baylor. It never feels good to give up three point opportunities, but with a team that shoots below 30% from long range, it’s imperative the Cyclones don’t let the Horns get easy looks at the rim. stopping penetration and closing out quickly and under control should help Iowa State stifle the Texas offense.

What to Expect

Defensively, the Horns will try to slow Iowa State down with some token pressure, which hasn’t been kind to the Cyclones this year. In years past, Iowa State would look to exploit pressure for baskets, but this year they seem content to take 8-9 seconds to cross half court and try to find a shot in a shortened shot clock setting. Similar to what I said in the Baylor preview, I look for Iowa State to try and get out and run at every possible opportunity. Iowa State matches up better on the boards in this matchup, and if they can run off of rebounds, they should be able to get some easy baskets in transition.

Iowa State needs to focus on getting back in transition. The worst thing you can do with a team that struggles offensively is give them good looks and easy buckets in transition. The Cyclones did a great job at this against Baylor and doing so again should result in a much more comfortable game for Iowa State fans.

Pick 3

  1. Iowa State pushes the tempo to over 70 possessions
  2. Naz makes more layups than 3’s
  3. Deonte Burton leads the team in rebounding

Iowa State - 76; Texas - 69

Game Notes

Game Time: Saturday, January 7th, 8:15 p.m. CST

Line Open: Iowa State (-11); O/U (132.5)

The Foe: Barking Carnival and Burnt Orange Nation

TV/Webcast: ESPN2 (Rich Hollenberg, Stephen Howard)

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

Cyclones.com Game Notes: Available here