Without Tamin Lipsey on Saturday in Ft. Worth, Iowa State was able to squeak out a win against a good TCU team. The Cyclones forced the Horned Frogs to commit 26 turnovers, easily their highest tally of the year. Iowa State was dominant on defense and forced TCU into a hilarious 30.8% turnover rate. Through the 6-minute mark in the first half, TCU had 13 field goals attempted and 12 turnovers and would eventually end the half with 18 giveaways, which Iowa State converted into 29 of their 44 first half points.
The Cyclones played with aggression and malice, hounding TCU’s starting 5 into 17 turnovers. Curtis Jones, starting in the injured Lipsey’s place, had 7 steals and eventually sank the most important free throws of the game down the stretch to seal the win. Jones had struggled through the year but sprang around TCU’s glaring white court with passion and energy, often providing respite at the foul line, where he and Keshon Gilbert combined to shoot 8 of Iowa State’s 13 free throws.
While Iowa State was obnoxious on the defensive end, the offense felt overly reliant on the defense at times. In particular, Iowa State did everything they could to give the game away down the stretch. Up 12 as the under 4 timeout was called, the Clones were in position to close the door on the Frogs for good. A bucket or two with some stalling would strangle the game and give Iowa State the permanent edge. Instead, Iowa State did what Houston’s Kelvin Sampson said his team did in Ames a few games ago: They peed on their leg:
- TO (TCU layup)
- Milan missed 3 (TCU paint jumper)
- TO (TCU layup)
- TO (TCU layup)
- Ward missed shot put (TCU rimmed out jumper)
- C. Jones makes two (TCU tip in)
- Gilbert missed FT (TCU missed 2 put backs and a three)
- Ward missed FT
- TCU 3 (Game Over)
The offense totally collapsed, almost sending half of Ames to the hospital. The Cyclones were careless with the ball, neglected to run offense as a substitute to running clock, and treated free throws like I treated going to class my senior year (I missed a lot). Luckily for Iowa State, the 12-point margin was enough to get out of Ft. Worth and hopefully one step closer to getting Tamin Lipsey back, who was missed most obviously during that crucial stretch.
Life in the Big 12 is hard. Consistently winning is difficult, especially on the road, and though Iowa State ALMOST blew what would have been a horrendous loss given the circumstances (up 12, not without Lipsey), they didn’t. Sometimes surviving is enough in this league, and the Clones did just enough to get a win.
Kansas State Preview
Iowa State welcomes in the Wildcats (14-4, 4-1) into Hilton Coliseum on Wednesday night. K-State has enjoyed an up-and-down year to this point, charting wins against Baylor and Villanova, but also losing to USC, Miami (FL), Nebraska, and Texas Tech. At one point prior to conference play, KSU played 3 straight OT games against Oral Roberts (not good), North Alabama (also not good), and the aforementioned Villanova team (slightly better).
The Wildcats have seemingly open with one of the weaker stretches in the Big 12 (if there is such a thing). They took care of business against UCF, at WVU, then slipped against a good Texas Tech team in Lubbock, then beat Baylor and Oklahoma State at home to jump out to a shared lead atop the conference standings.
Kansas State boasts the 23rd best defensive efficiency and the 22nd best effective FG%. They do an excellent job at not giving opponents free throw opportunities and protecting the rim.
Interestingly enough, K-State’s greatest weakness also happens to be Iowa State’s biggest strength: The Wildcats turn the ball over, A LOT. Their 21% TO margin is one of the worst in all of college basketball, and they top the Big 12 in giveaways. Further playing into Iowa State’s hands is the fact that the ‘Cats are a poor 3 point shooting team, averaging only 31.6% from behind the arc. Even Iowa State shoots the ball better than Kansas State at 34.6%. The Clones have struggled to defend against teams that shoot the ball well from deep, allowing the 4th highest % of points scored from 3 in the entire country. Teams that can patiently work Iowa State’s defense from side to side and make the extra pass for an open jumper have faired tremendously well against the Clones.
Cam Carter leads the way for Kansas State, along with Tylor Perry, who took a break from making Madea movies to play guard in the Little Apple. Kansas State also added Creighton transfer Arthur Kaluma over the offseason. The 6’7” forward averages 15 points and almost 8 rebounds per game, and is shooting 41% from 3 on the year. Kaluma notably scored 26 points against Villanova in the overtime thriller from earlier this year.
Kansas State’s 5-0 record in overtime this year through this point of the year is as impressive as it is head-scratching. The Wildcats have been inconsistent this season, but good enough to close out close games that could’ve easily swung the other way. Iowa State’s defense presents a serious problem for an offense that treats the basketball like a hot potato. The Cylones are undefeated when they force at least 16 turnovers, and K-State’s almost 15 per game average bodes well for the crowd at Hilton on Wednesday night.
I like Iowa State in this one, for the same reason they won in Ft. Worth Saturday. Force turnovers at their usual 18.6/game clip, and the Cyclones will win. If the Clones have an off night and struggle to jump passing lanes and create havoc when KSU has the ball, and they could be in for a fight.
After Iowa State’s win at TCU, the Cyclones jumped to the number 12 spot in the KenPom rankings, boasting the number 53 ranked offense and the 3rd best defense. KenPom rankings have long been heralded as scripture for college basketball junkies and often provided foresight into how the remainder of the season will play out. In particular, being a top 40 team in both offense and defense has yielded a large portion of national champions over the course of the last 20 or so years.
While Iowa State’s offense has not always looked pretty, the numbers are solid and pointing in the right direction. In particular, Iowa State has moved the ball well, as of late. The Cyclones have the 22nd highest A/FGM number, a key indicator of a healthy offense. The Clones are playing a little quicker then they have in years past, up to the 79th quickest possession ranking in comparison to 304th and 213th the last two years under Otz. While still not perfect, the numbers point to a team that has done enough to get into range of a statistic that has decided each champion since 2002.