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Basketball Preview: We’re Talking Kansas State Pt. 2

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Iowa State heads back on the road to take on the Wildcats

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

The conference season is now 23 complete, and the Iowa State Cyclones sit at 7-5 and in 4th place in the conference. I would venture to guess that if you gave fans that record at this point in the slate before the season, they would have taken it. However, it’s certainly been an up and down ride to get here.

According to Kenpom, this is Iowa State’s second toughest remaining game - second only to the trip to Morgantown to end the season. An 11-7 conference record would all but assure the Cyclones a 6th straight NCAA Tournament berth, while a 10-8 record would make Selection Sunday a lot more uncomfortable for the Cyclone faithful. Stealing one in Manhattan would go a long way toward making 11-7 a possibility.

Nerding Out

Iowa State vs. Kansas State Preview

Iowa State @ Kansas State
Iowa State @ Kansas State
AP Ranking UR UR
Season Record 15-9 (7-5) 16-9 (5-7)
Home/Away 9-3 / 6-6 10-3 / 6-6
Series Record 86-137 137-86
Series in Manhattan 23-80 80-23
Via Kenpom (2/14)
Overall Ranking 26 28
Adjusted Offense 38th 45th
Adjusted Defense 27th 26th
2P% 50.5% (117) 52.3% (63)
3P% 38.1% (47) 37.5% (69)
FT% 66.7% (281) 67.6% (250)
EFG% 53.1% (71) 53.7% (50)

Last Time Out

Iowa State did what they needed to do on Saturday, knocking off Oklahoma 80-64. Monte Morris stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and no turnovers. Solomon Young tallied 8 points (on 4/5 shooting), 2 rebounds and 2 blocks in his first start as a Cyclone. Oklahoma rallied to take a brief lead one time each half, but in the end, the stretch run was a comfortable one for Iowa State fans.

Kansas State traveled to Morgantown on Saturday to take on West Virginia without their starting center, DJ Johnson. Similarly to how Iowa State was unable to knock down shots against the Mountaineers, Kansas State shot horrifically from everywhere on the floor on their way to an 85-66 loss.

Round 1

The first matchup between these two teams was a microcosm of Iowa State’s season. The first half featured a lights out offensive performance by the Cyclones, as Matt Thomas and Co. shot Iowa State to a 17-point halftime lead. The second half featured some weird substitutions, lackadaisical offensive possessions, carelessness with the ball, and eventually a blown 20-point lead before Iowa State was able to come back to win 70-65.

Matchups and Players to Watch

With DJ Johnson expected to be back in the lineup, I’ll be watching his matchup with Solomon Young, particularly when ISU is on defense. Solomon has emerged as Iowa State’s best option at the five spot, but has been prone to foul trouble. Johnson is one of the most physical bigs in the conference, and if Young can’t buck the trend, then the Cyclones will be forced to rely on Darrell Bowie and a possibly concussed Merrill Holden.

Of course, some of the fouls come when Solomon is forced to help on dribble penetration. Iowa State’s guards must keep Kansas State ball handlers out of the lane. In the second half of the first matchup, ISU’s guards got complacent and gave up driving lanes which opened up dump downs and kick outs for easy looks. With the offense as hit or miss as it can be at times, the defense must remain solid to prevent any big runs that get the home crowd at the Octagon revved up.

A Word and a GIF Summary

Today’s Word: Persistence

Iowa State’s offense relies on jump shooters to make jump shots - that’s no secret. When the offense is humming, Iowa State is working the ball around, getting the ball in the paint, and making the extra pass to get good looks at jump shots. When the offense stalls, a lot of guys settle for contested midrange jumpers, oftentimes coming off of a pump fake or the bounce. The Cyclones must be persistent about getting good looks against a physical Kansas State defense.

Likewise, the defense must be consistent. Iowa State must turn Kansas State into a jump shooting team and must limit second chance opportunities. The guards must stay in front of their man, and the bigs must make entry passes difficult. Help side defenders must rotate early and aggressively and shut down passing lanes to weak side cutters. This becomes more important if shots aren’t falling, like the second half in Ames.

Today’s GIF:

Pick 3

  1. First to 70 wins
  2. Solomon Young fouls out
  3. Iowa State shoots <40% from 3

Iowa State - 66; Kansas State - 73

Game Notes

Game Time: Wednesday, Feb. 15th, 6 p.m. CST

Line Open: Kansas State (-3); O/U (140)

The Foe: Bring on the Cats

TV/Webcast: ESPN2/WatchESPN (Dave O’Brien, Kara Lawson, PJ Carlissimo, Holly Rowe)

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

Cyclones.com Game Notes: Available here