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Basketball Preview: We’re Talkin’ Oklahoma State

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The Cyclones head down to Stillwater to open Big 12 play.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

After a non-conference season that saw the Cyclones play some good basketball without Lindell Wigginton and Solomon Young for all but two games, and Zoran Talley and Cameron Lard for the first seven, Iowa State is making the trek down to Stillwater to take on the Cowboys in the first game of conference play.

Last Time Out

In the final non-conference game of the season (save for the Big 12-SEC Challenge game against Ole Miss), Iowa State dominated Eastern Illinois by a score of 101-53. Lindell Wigginton and Solomon Young finally made their returns to the rotation, with Wigginton pouring in 15 points in 18 minutes. He finished 5-7 from two-point range, but went 0-5 from beyond the arc. That’s not entirely surprising given how long he went between full-speed games, but expect him to improve going forward as he gets back into the swing of things. Young also played 10 solid minutes in his first action of the season, grabbing four rebounds and hitting a three. Marial Shayok continued his stellar play with 23 points on eight of thirteen shooting and three of five beyond the arc.

About Oklahoma State

The Cowboys enter this matchup in a state of rebuilding at 6-6, with a win over LSU (#40 in KenPom), but losses to Charlotte (#307), Minnesota (#62), and Tulsa (#124). Defensively, Oklahoma State is average, ranking in the 70s and 80s in defensive efficiency, turnover percentage, and effective field goal percentage. However, their steal percentage ranks 116th in the country, so their turnover percentage is likely slightly inflated due to unforced errors by the opponent.

On offense, the Cowboys struggle in most areas, ranking 126th in overall offensive efficiency, 103rd in effective field goal percentage, 163rd in offensive rebounding, and 211th in two-point percentage. Their biggest struggle on offense is turning the ball over, where they turn the ball over on 21.7% of their possessions and allow a steal on 10.7% of possessions. Those numbers rank 303rd and 287th respectively. However, the saving grace for the offense is their blistering 39.4% team three-point percentage, which ranks 17th in the country.

Opponent Player to Watch

6’-7” Cameron McGriff currently leads the team in scoring at 13.4 ppg on 78.4% shooting from two, and 38.6% from three, and is also the team’s leading rebounder at 7.6 rpg. McGriff is a pretty good all-around player, as he also boats a 4.0 block percentage and 2.0 steal percentage. He’s a good overall athlete, so Steve Prohm will need to make sure he’s matched up properly on defense. Expect Talen Horton-Tucker, Nick Weiler-Babb, and Zoran Talley to combine for the defensive assignment.

What Will Happen

With the exception of offensive three point percentage, Iowa State is better than the Cowboys in virtually every metric available. However, the most noticeable gaps are in turnovers on both ends of the floor. The Cyclones currently rank 12th in the country in offensive turnover percentage (and 5th in the country in steal percentage at just 5.1%), while the Cowboys sit at 87th in forcing turnovers and 116th in defensive steal percentage. As mentioned before, Oklahoma State turns the ball over a lot (on almost a quarter of their possessions), while Iowa State does a decent job of forcing turnovers, ranking 81st in defensive turnover percentage and 54th in defensive steal percentage.

In terms of overall efficiency, Iowa State ranks 17th and 42nd in offensive and defensive efficiency, respectively, while Oklahoma State ranks 126th and 73rd in offensive and defensive efficiency, respectively.

Given all of this, the good guys should have plenty of opportunities to do what they do best, run in transition. Tyrese Haliburton and Lindell Wigginton should be able to force turnovers by point guards Michael Weathers and Isaac Likekele, who each turn the ball over on almost thirty percent of their possessions.

Weathers looks like the guy to pick on in this game, as he sports the highest usage rate on the team, but the second worst offensive rating of anyone that plays significant minutes at 83.4. For reference, Marial Shayok is in the same usage rate bracket as Weathers, but rocks an offensive rating of 116.8, good for 12th in the country in his usage bracket.

Iowa State - 86

Oklahoma State - 73

Pick Three

  1. Tyrese Haliburton, Lindell Wigginton, and Talen Horton-Tucker combine for 8 steals.
  2. Lindell Wigginton and Marial Shayok both score over 20 points.
  3. Cameron Lard records six points, three rebounds, a block, and three fouls in six minutes of action.

Game Notes

The Matchup: Iowa State (10-2, 0-0 Big 12) vs. Oklahoma State (6-6, 0-0 OVC)

Where: Stillwater, OK - Gallagher-Iba Arena (13,611)

When: Wednesday, Jan. 2, 8 p.m. (CST)

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

TV: ESPNews

Webcast: Watch ESPN

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

Live Stats: Cyclonestats.com