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Basketball Preview: We’re Talking Texas Tech Pt. 2

Four in a row?

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

Talk about a quick turnaround. My hangover from celebrating Iowa State’s first 3-game winning streak of 2017 just recently disappeared, just in time for tonight’s tilt in Lubbock. I hope you’ve all enjoyed the last three “comfortable” victories because if Kenpom is any indication, we’re in for some serious close game action the rest of the way.

Regardless of the four game finish, this team has come a long way, upping their offensive efficiency over 20 spots since the beginning of conference play, while firmly establishing their defense as a top-30/35 unit. By winning four of their last five conference games, the Cyclones have climbed to a tie for second in the Big 12, and have given themselves an opportunity for a great finish to a roller coaster of a season. That first half in Austin though...

The Big 12 leads the country in conference games decided by less than four points or overtime at an astonishing 37.1% (26/70) and has the fewest 19+ point games of any conference in the country at 2.9% (2/70). The Big 12 is no stranger to close calls, and I have a feeling the rest of the conference slate for the Cyclones will be decided by razor thin margins. A rebound here, loose ball there, 3-point shooting variance, foul trouble - it could be a different formula every night.

Iowa State at Texas Tech by the Numbers

Iowa State @ Texas Tech
Iowa State @ Texas Tech
AP Ranking UR UR
Season Record 17-9 (9-5) 17-10 (5-9)
Home/Away 10-3 / 7-6 15-2 / 2-8
Series Record 17-13 13-17
Series in Lubbock 3-9 9-3
Via Kenpom (2/20)
Overall Ranking 24 36
Adjusted Offense 30th 35th
Adjusted Defense 29th 68th
2P% 50.7% (109) 53.2 (46)
3P% 38.7% (33) 38.3% (43)
FT% 68.7% (218) 73.1% (84)
EFG% 53.5% (60) 54.5% (36)

Last Time Out

Iowa State got revenge on Vladimir Brodziansky and the TCU Horned Frogs on Saturday, 84-71.

The real entertainment was in Morgantown as the Texas Tech Red Raiders mounted a furious comeback to get the game to overtime against the Mountaineers, but eventually ran out of gas, losing 83-74.

Round 1

Iowa State opened Big 12 play late in 2016 by hosting the Red Raiders at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones’ shooting was as cold as the December night as they shot a putrid 46.9% inside the arc and 28.6% beyond. Naz Mitrou-Long finally cracked the Texas Tech defense by driving to the basket, scoring 19 points on just one three pointer in the Cyclones’ 63-56 victory.

Matchups and Players to Watch

Keenan Evans went bonkers in Morgantown with 28 points, four rebounds and four assists. He also had 15, 6 and 3 in Ames in the first matchup. The 6’3” junior guard makes a lot of hay of penetration, and is capable hitting from long range. We saw Iowa State struggle at times containing TCU’s guards on the perimeter. For Iowa State to be effective defensively, they HAVE to stop dribble penetration and make it difficult to get the ball in the painted area.

Niem Stevenson has been really solid for the Red Raiders as of late, and was nearly perfect in the first half at West Virginia. I imagine Iowa State will try various defenders on him at points, but whoever it is needs to run him off the 3-point line as Stevenson is 15/33 from deep over the last month.

Tech has plenty of size and length with guys like Anthony Livingston, Zach Smith, and Aaron Ross, but their guards have been especially good of late. Iowa State’s senior guards will have to step up, especially on the defensive end, to steal a win in Lubbock.

A Word and a GIF Summary

Today’s Word: Maturity

We’ve seen the Cyclones struggle to handle success at various points in previous seasons. Lubbock has been a house of horrors recently for Iowa State, losing in overtime last season and not having won there since January 4th, 2014. Now we’ll get to see how the team responds to winning three in a row and having the public laud them for playing their best basketball of the season. You’d like to think the maturity of six seniors would lead them to put up a fight against a quality Tech squad that has been REALLY good in Lubbock, but we’ll find out. If they come out like they did against Texas, this game won’t be close.

Today’s GIF:

Pick 3

  1. Zach Smith gets a double double
  2. Donovan Jackson scores in double figures
  3. Iowa State gives up 15+ offensive rebounds

Iowa State Cyclones - 75; Texas Tech Red Raiders - 79

Game Notes

Game Time: Monday, Feb. 20th, 8 p.m. CST

Line Open: Texas Tech (-1.5); O/U (140)

The Foe: Viva the Matadors

TV/Webcast: ESPNU/WatchESPN (Brendan Fitzgerald, Paul Biancardi)

Radio: Cyclone Radio Network/TuneIn Radio App (John Walters, Eric Heft) Game Notes: Available here