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Men’s Basketball Preview: We’re Talking West Virginia Again

Can Iowa State lock itself into the tourney with a win?

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Cyclones’ Last Time Out

Our beloved Cyclones bucked the losing streak in a big way, trouncing the Oklahoma Sooners in Hilton Coliseum by a score of 75-54. After a horrible offensive streak in the middle of the conference, the Cyclones shot a blistering 67% from the floor and 53% from three while playing their typical physical, gritty defense.

Izaiah Brockington led the team in scoring with 22 points on 10-of-13 shooting while chipping in a couple of rebounds. Jazz Kunc and Tyrese Hunter also hit double figures. The team also committed just 11 turnovers, a far cry from the near-20 per game we’d been used to seeing. All-in-all a near-perfect outing for Iowa State, and exactly what the doctor ordered.

West Virginia’s Last Time Out

The Mountaineers continued their own losing streak, losing 77-67 to TCU in Fort Worth. Taz Sherman led WVU in scoring with 23, with Kedrian Johnson coming as the other double figure scorer with 12 points. The story of the game was TCU’s domination of the paint, where they outrebounded the Mountaineers 42-24, and turned it into a 12-point advantage on points in the paint.

Player to Watch

Taz Sherman is without a doubt the most active scorer on this Mountaineer team, leading the team in shot attempts and usage rate by a wide margin. In the first meeting in Morgantown, four different WVU players scored in double figures, so it’s far from a one-man-band, but slowing down Sherman has proven to be a good way to bog down the rest of the Mountaineer offense.

That said, sharpshooter Sean McNeil will need to be run off the three point line, or Iowa State could be chasing him all over the place like last time.

Pick 3

  1. Gabe Kalscheur shows the last game wasn’t a fluke, and leads the team in scoring.
  2. At least four players foul out between the two teams, pushing total run time over 2-1/2 hours.
  3. Jaden Walker plays the most minutes of his career, as his length proves to be a valuable asset in breaking the WVU press.

What Will Happen

Make no mistake, the Cyclones’ last bout with the Fighting Bob Huggins was an absolute mess. West Virginia generated a ton of good looks and knocked them down with regularity, while Iowa State looked completely lost offensively. Since then, West Virginia hasn’t looked good (at least in comparison to the rest of the conference and what we typically expect out of them).

Iowa State continued its own losing streak, but is now coming off an outstanding performance in their last outing, and looked like they finally found some offensive rhythm. While it’s not realistic to expect any team to shoot over 60% from the floor with any sort of consistency, the Cyclones didn’t get there by just happening to knock down tons of difficult shots. Instead, Iowa State was able to generate lots of good, open looks, which enable them to hit those shots at a higher clip than we’ve been seeing from them.

That said, West Virginia is a different animal that Oklahoma on the defensive end. Their full-court press makes life a lot more difficult and requires some smart play to get the ball up the floor to a point where you can run some half-court offense. TCU was able to gash West Virginia by using their size to bully WVU inside in the half-court and slow the game down.

Needless to see, Iowa State does not have that same privilege. Otz’s group relies heavily on small ball, which plays directly into West Virginia’s hand. If Tyrese Hunter and Izaiah Brockington can successfully navigate the full-court press and limit turnovers, Iowa State has a good shot. If not, it’s a crapshoot.

Iowa State - 58

West Virginia - 53