Iowa State is once again playing for the chance at the Big 12 Tournament title game. This time Kansas State is standing in the way. Cyclones fans will surely be clogging up I-35 this morning, and it should be a pretty heavy Cyclones crowd, even with Kansas State playing. Let’s take a look at what Kansas State may toss out at Iowa State on Friday night.
Last Time Out
Iowa State made 13 threes and shot over 50 percent from the field the on their way to their first win since February 25th.
Both teams came out hot when Makai Mason hit three of his four three-pointers, which gave the Bears an 18-14 lead. Iowa State finished the first half on a 12-3 run to lead 38-29, as Horton-Tucker finished with four first half triples and 16 points.
Tyrese Haliburton started the second half nailing two corner triples and making a layup to give the Cyclones a 16-point edge before a Baylor timeout. The Cyclones led by as many as 22, and the rest of the game was unusually stress free from there, as Iowa State would win 83-66.
About Kansas State
The Wildcats are without their star player Dean Wade, and Bruce Weber expects him to miss the entire Big 12 Tournament in hopes of being ready for the NCAA Tournament. They certainly missed him in their win over TCU on Thursday afternoon, but they were able to pull away a bit for a 70-61 victory over the Horned Frogs.
Offensively, Kansas State is ranked 100th in adjusted offense in the country according to KenPom. The Wildcats average 65.9 points per game and are in the lower portions of effective field goal percentage. Kansas State is not going to stand out on the offensive side of the ball, but that’s never been the strength of this Wildcats team. They’re just hoping they can hit a few big shots and shut you down defensively.
Speaking of defense, this is the Wildcats bread and butter. Kansas State only allows their opponents to score 59 points per game. They sit at 6th in the country in effective defense and force you into a lot of turnovers, good for a top-25 ranking in effective turnover rate. The Cyclones have struggled with turnovers a bit over the course of the last month, so they’ll need to continue to play the tough, low-mistake game we saw against Baylor. Iowa State has shown they can break down the Wildcat offense and go off for a big night, and they’ll need to to advance to Saturday’s championship game.
Opponent Player To Watch
With Dean Wade injured, I’m going with two Wildcat players Iowa State will need to lock down: Xavier Sneed and Barry Brown Jr. Both players led the way for Kansas State against TCU, and will look to do the same on Friday night. Barry Brown Jr has scored 23 points in both games against Iowa State this season, and while Sneed’s numbers are quite there against the Cyclones, he certainly has the potential to light it up. Much like the Baylor game, if the Cyclones can take away the guard threat and limit what happens inside, I think they will have no problem in this one.
What Will Happen
The Cyclones showed they can do damage when they get everyone on the same page. Baylor just happened to be in the way of that Thursday morning. Now, Kansas State sans Dean Wade proves to provide another stiff test as Iowa State looks to get back to the Big 12 Tournament title game for the second time in three seasons, and fourth in the last six.
Kansas State may be without Wade, but defense wins championships and they will roll out anyone on the floor and man anyone up. The Cyclones are going to have to protect the ball, while getting the Wildcat defense moving, much like they did in Manhattan. In Ames, Iowa State allowed Kansas State to settle in and they put the clamps down and it was not a good sight to see.
I think this one will be tight most of the way, but I have a really good feeling about this one. Something happened between last Saturday morning, and now this group of Cyclones has a chip on their shoulder trying to prove to everyone that they’re still the same team we thought they were. Give me the Cyclones in this one, but close.
The Pick: Iowa State-69 Kansas State-64
1- Tyrese Haliburton hits three shots from Dorothy’s house (Wizard of Oz) for you young folk
2- Marial Shayok scores 25
3- Fran states “Last one out of Ames turn the lights off” at least once
Time: 6pm CST
Radio: John Walters and Eric Heft; Learfield Sports