Iowa State is a game below .500 and has been all but eliminated from post season play. The Cyclones are only three games removed from their last meeting in Waco. The Cyclones have gone 1-2 in that stretch, but for many Cyclone fans, there’s been glimmers of hope.
Solomon Young’s breakout near 30 point game against Oklahoma State, and Iowa State giving Auburn everything they could handle in the Big 12/SEC challenge. Iowa State now focuses its sights on what could be the biggest game of the year.
Last Time Out
As I alluded to, Iowa State stormed back to make the Auburn game interesting. Besides terrible commentary from Dan Dakich, the game was rather enjoyable. Iowa State was down by nearly 20 points before storming back. Terrence Lewis was a corner 3 away from making it a one point game with less than 15 seconds to go.
What separated this loss from a streak of road loses to ranked teams? The Cyclones answered. In games against Kansas, Baylor, and Texas Tech the Cyclones starters go to the bench, the opponent goes on a 12-0 run, and Iowa State can never come back from it.
Rasir Bolton put together his second 20 point game in a row, and Solomon Young performed very well off the bench for the second straight game. With Tre Jackson’s availability in question, I would have to imagine the line-up of Halliburton, Bolton, Lewis, Griffin, and Young gets major minutes against Baylor.
If you’ve been living under a rock, this team is really good. Ranked number one, and deservedly so, the Baylor Bears have been on a tear as of late. They haven’t lost since early November to the Washington Huskies. Since then: 16 straight wins, and undefeated in Big 12 play. Their last win coming against Florida in Gainesville.
They have the best backcourt in the country, and are exceptional on both sides of the ball, ranking in the top 20 in adjusted offense and defense efficiency. The Bears haven’t been dominant. Baylor had a comeback win against Oklahoma State, and won closely against Oklahoma.
The meeting between Iowa State v. Baylor earlier this year wasn’t great. Iowa State finished the game without a single player scoring double digits, and Baylor started the second half on a 10-0 run. Iowa State was never able to get it close after that. Baylor also out rebounded the Cyclones 45-33.
Player to Watch
Jared Butler has been the breakout star of the Big 12, averaging nearly 16 points for the top-ranked Bears. Butler is shooting 42% from the field, and nearly 39% from 3. He’s the best player, but far from the only player on this Bears team.
The other two guards, Teague and Mitchell, get about 10-12 points per game. Vital and Gillespie are the two big men for the Bears, both built like a brick shit house and dominating the boards.
What Will Happen
I’m cautiously optimistic. Baylor is very good, but far from unbeatable. If Butler has a bad night and Iowa State can stay active on the boards, I think they have a puncher’s chance. The Cyclones have been able to put together some good games, and this could capitalize on that momentum.
Also, if I graduate with the last great Hilton win I got to see from the student section was against Seton Hall, that’ll suck. A lot.
Iowa State - 65
Iowa State will shoot above 30% from the 3-pt line.
Iowa State will out-rebound the Baylor Bears, I said it.
Iowa State will storm that court, and I’ll pay the Big 12 fine myself if I have to.
The Matchup: Iowa State (9-10, 2-4 Big 12) vs. Baylor (17-1, 6-0 Big 12)
Where: Hilton Coliseum- Ames, IA (14,384)
When: Wednesday, January 29, 2020; Tip 8:00pm
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network/TuneIn Radio Talent: John Walters (PxP), Eric Heft (Analyst)
Betting Lines: Baylor -4.5
Live Stats: Cyclonestats.com