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Basketball Preview: We’re Talking Team Out East

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The Cyclones will do their best to keep the “Fighting Fran’s” spiraling out of control

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Another #HateWeek has arrived, although this one seems to be a little tepid compared to the flaming hot takes we saw leading up to the football game.

Iowa State football is going bowling (somewhere south of New York) while their rival in eastern Iowa prepares for their bowl game that (gasp) will occur in the month of December.

For the Iowa State basketball team, the team out east appears to be their easiest opponent to date considering their pedestrian record of 4-5.

Does a 4-5 start have Fran on the hot seat out east? Hardly.

It is hard to be upset at your team though if you are an Iowa fan. Fran McCaffery has only been at the helm for 8 years and this program simply just needs more time. They say rebuilds don’t happen over night when you do things the right way.

This inexperienced squad that returns nearly everyone from last season is still figuring out how to play with each after being teammates for just one regular season, three postseason games and a foreign trip this summer.

Last Time Out

The Cyclones struggled out of the gate their last time out against Northern Illinois. Trailing at the half, Iowa State rebounded nicely after the break en route to a 94-80 victory over the Huskies.

Lindell Wigginton once again led the way with 28 points. Donovan Jackson wasn’t far behind positing 24 points of his own while Nick Weiler-Babb recorded another points-assists double-double.

That team out east lost their third straight game Monday evening after getting run out of Assembly Hall by the Indiana Hoosiers.

About Team Out East

TOE had a fast start to the season, posting a 3-0 record while scoring over 90 points per game. However, none of those teams were ranked inside the top 300 and from that point forward Fran McCaffery’s squad has lost five out of six. Their one win a come from behind victory over UAB.

Praised for their two game run in the NIT last year, many fans expected a team returning so many pieces to get off to a fast start this year and compete for a high seed in the NCAA tournament. The problem? The pieces they returned only netted them a two game run in the NIT last year. Peter Jok ain’t walking through those Hilton Coliseum doors Thursday evening.

Players to Watch

Tyler Cook, a former ISU target, is the most talented player on the team. Cook is incredibly athletic and has been a very effective offensive player so far this season. He will do most of his damage inside of the arc where he draws over six fouls per 40 minutes. Much like Iowa State big men, Cook struggles with foul trouble, committing 4.4 fouls per 40 minutes.

While Cook does the dirty work inside the lane, Jordan Bohannon is most effective from behind the arc. The sophomore from Marion, Iowa has taken over twice as many shots from deep as he has from two-point range, connecting on over 47% of them compared to just 28% inside the arc.

Bohannon has the ability to go off on any given night, scoring 30 earlier this season against UAB. He hasn’t been as effective lately though, scoring in double figures just twice in his last five games. The point guard is apparently dealing with plantar fasciitis.

Jack Nunge, a freshman from Indiana, does not have the usage rates that others on his team have, but that might not last long. The 6’11” forward is (as expected given his height) an effective shot blocker recording a block on 4% of the possessions while he is on the court. Unexpectedly, given his size, he is also an effective long range shooter knocking down 9 of 19 three point attempts so far this season.

Nunge is much more effective and athletic than Garza and the more minutes he gets, the better off that team out east will be.

What to Expect

While this one won’t have nearly the hype that CyHawk games of recent memory have had, it should set up to at least be somewhat entertaining. That is what happens when you get two defenses that have struggled at times ranking just inside and out of the top 100 in adjusted defensive efficiency get together.

While that team out east hasn’t won many games recently, they have played quality competition. They won’t be phased should Iowa State jump out to an early lead, because quite frankly that has become the norm for them lately.

This game sets up to be quite the litmus test for Iowa State. Is the improvement we think we have seen during this five game winning streak here to stay, or a by-product of weak competition?

Iowa State has a distinct advantage in guard play. Their opponent no doubt has a rather large size advantage but will struggle to keep up with the likes of Cameron Lard when he is out there running the floor.

This team is better than Northern Illinois, but I think the game will play out in similar fashion. Tight early, comfortable lead late. Lindell Wigginton shows he is the best player on the court once again.

Iowa State- 84 Iowa- 74

Three Things

1. Fran McCaffery gets a technical foul in the first half.

2. Lindell Wigginton leads all scorers.

3. Jeff Beverly goes the whole game without shooting a three point shot.

Game Notes

Game Time: Thursday, December 6th, 7:00 PM

Line: Iowa State (-5)

TV: ESPN2