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Basketball Preview: We’re Talkin’ Eastern Illinois

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One more before conference play

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

The Cyclones will play one more tune up in Hilton before they head down to Stillwater to take on Oklahoma State. Let’s take a quick look at Eastern Illinois and what may go down tonight. Iowa State will look to slowly work in Solomon Young and Lindell Wigginton, as both are set to return from their injuries.

Last Time Out

In the final Hy-Vee Classic, Iowa State was able to battle past Drake and claim a 77-68 victory at Wells Fargo Arena. Drake gave Iowa State everything they could handle, Drake even led for large portions of the game but the Cyclone talent eventually took over the game.

Michael Jacobson once again led the way for Iowa State scoring 22 points and pulling down 4 rebounds. Marial Shayok overcame a slow start in the first half to score 18 on the night and Talen Horton-Tucker scored 15 and included a monstrous dunk as well.

Cameron Lard played three minutes and also committed three fouls in that time. All eyes continue to be on the sophomore's playing time as he continues to claw back from being suspended earlier on in the year.

About Eastern Illinois

The Panthers come into Hilton Coliseum on a three game win streak, and currently sit at 6-5 after defeating Bradley in their last game 73-66. Iowa State and Eastern Illinois are meeting for the third time in series history with the Cyclones holding a 2-0 edge in the all-time series. Friday’s game marks the 31st anniversary of the first meeting in the series, a 76-66 win by the Cyclones at Hilton Coliseum. Fun fact, Talen Horton-Tucker and Eastern Illinois’ Cam Burrell spent time as AAU teammates in high school.

Eastern Illinois is currently the 302nd ranked team in the nation according the KenPom. The Panthers will bring the nations 293rd ranked offense as well as the 279th ranked overall defense. Earlier in the season the Panthers hung with Texas in the season opener but ultimately fell 71-59. The Panthers will attempt to keep pace with Iowa State with the 3pt shot, with around 40% of their shots coming from behind the arc and freshman guard Ben Harvey shoots 50% from deep.

Opponent Player To Watch

Sophomore guard Mack Smith. In the Panthers last game, Smith scored 20 points while shooting 67% from deep. Of all the Panthers lethal guards, Smith appears to have the highest stock climb as of late. He is the second leading scorer on the team for now averaging just over 11 points per contest and 17 points per game in his last two. Iowa State will have to be able to contest at the three point line and force all their guards off the line.

What Will Happen

Tomorrow night will certainly be worth watching, especially with the return of Lindell Wigginton and Solomon Young. We may not get the full feel for the lineup just yet, as Steve Prohm will certainly slowly work those two into the rotations. With all the moving parts I think this one may be closer than most will expect for most of the contest, especially if Eastern Illinois is able to convert from deep like they have all year long. Though, given how bad Eastern Illinois’ defense has been, the Cyclones will certainly have their chances all night long. Iowa State is favored by 24 at this current time, and the score should be close to that at the end of the night.

Iowa State- 87 Eastern Illinois- 67

Pick Three

1- Tyrese Haliburton 10+ assists

2- Michael Jacobson scores 20

3- Cameron Lard situation will continue puzzle fans

Game Notes

The Matchup: Iowa State (9-2, 0-0 Big 12) vs. Eastern Illinois (6-5, 0-0 OVC)

Where: Ames, Iowa - Hilton Coliseum (14,384)

When: Friday, Dec. 21, 6 p.m. (CST)

Radio: Cyclone Radio Network/TuneIn Radio Talent: John Walters (PxP), Eric Heft (Analyst)

TV: Cyclones.tv Talent: John Walters (PxP), Eric Heft (Analyst)

Webcast: Cyclones.tv

Sirius/XM/Internet: NA/383/974 (internet)

Live Stats: Cyclonestats.com