The Baylor Bears continue their home stand with the 13th ranked Iowa State Cyclones coming to Waco, TX Tuesday evening. The Cyclones have been struggling as of late, losing 3 of their last 5-games, including tough road games to Texas A&M and Texas Tech. Iowa State is just 4-4 this year in true road games.
Baylor comes into the game losing four of their last 5, with losses in three of their last four home games. They are just 3-3 in Big 12 play on their home court after their loss Saturday to Texas Tech. Who will bounce back and get a big conference win and improve their hopes for a top seed in the Big 12 tournament?
No. 25/22 Baylor (18-7, 7-5) vs. No. 13/15 Iowa State (18-7, 7-5)
Date - Feb. 16, 2016 | 8:00 p.m. CT
Location - Waco, Texas | Ferrell Center (10,284)
TV - ESPN2 and WatchESPN
Radio - ESPN Central Texas
Online Audio - Listen Online
Linve Stats - Gametracker
Twitter - @BaylorMBB
- Tuesday is the 31st series meeting. BU?trails 13-17, but the Bears are 10-2 against ISU in Waco.
- Baylor has won 3 straight against Iowa State for the first time in series history.
- Baylor is 18-0 this season when it has taken the lead at any point in the 2nd half of a game.
- Baylor is 18-2 this season when shooting 40%?or better from the field and 0-5 when shooting less than 40%.
- Baylor's average RPI loss is No. 14, which ranks 2nd nationally behind West Virginia (12).
- Baylor is 9-10 against top-25 ranked teams since the start of the 2014-15 season, including a 5-3 home record.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Limit Niang - Georges Niang is one of the best players in the nation. KenPom has him at #9 on his Player of the Year watch. He averages 19 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists for one of the most prolific offenses in the nation. However, the Bears have been his kryptonit the past few seasons. In two games in 2013, Niang totalled just 13 points, fewer than the 16.7 he averaged on the season per game. For a career 54% shooter on 2-point shots, he has made just 40% of his shots against the Bears in his career. After winning his first three games against the Bears, he has lost the last three.
Niang struggles with the Baylor zone, especially as it forces him to work more from the mid-range. For some reason, it has just not clicked for him against Baylor. His best game might have been his last though, where he scored 22 points on 8/16 shooting with 6 rebounds and 8 assists. Baylor needs to continue to limit Niang, and make him work for his points.
2. Get to the Cyclone Bench - The weakness of the Cyclones is their lack of a bench. Their starters play massive minutes, with just 22.3% of available minutes going to reserves. In fact, only 7 teams in all of college basketball utilize their bench less than Iowa State does. They have four players that are in the top 500 in terms of % of minutes played, with all five starters being over 70%. The Bears are just outside the top-100, with 27.9% of their minutes going to reserves. Deonte Burton's return to the lineup has given the Cyclones a bit more options at the wing, allowing them to rotate him and Abdel Nader more. They also can slide Nader down to the power forward spot next to Niang or center Jameel McKay, who recently returned from a multi-game suspension.
This is a weak bench, and one that does not provide much scoring punch, with Burton or Nader coming off the bench as the only viable weapon. Baylor has to attack the basket, and be aggressive on offense to try and get Iowa State in foul trouble, something that rarely happens. Jameel McKay is amazing at defending without fouling, getting almost 2 blocks a game and only averaging 2.3 fouls per fourty minutes.
3. The Point Guard Battle - Monte Morris versus Lester Medford is a marquee matchup. Morris is one of the best point guards in the Big 12 and the nation. He has been remarkably effecient with the ball over his 3-year career, averaging 5 assists and 1 turnover per game. His scoring and shooting has improved considerably this year, as he is making 37% of his 3-pointers, and 51% of his field gaosl. He has taken on a larger role on the scoring side, putting up a 2nd best 15.1 points per game.
Medford has been one of the most improved players in the Big 12, easily besting Morris in assist rate on the season (36.8% to 29.9%). They are both rigth at 175 assists and 48 steals on the season, with Medford not nearly as large of a scorer for the Bears. Both are underrated defenders who make their assignment work. However, the matchup might not been seen very much when Iowa State has the ball, as the bears zone will move Medford around. This is the matchup I will be watching the most, as it should be a great show.
WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME?
No one wins in Ames, unless they are the Bears. Baylor was the only team to beat Iowa State in Ames over a 13 month period, and the Bears did it twice. They overcame a 12-point second half deficit with a 35-17 run in an 11-minute stretch. Jonathan Motley had his best game of the season with a 27 points on 13-15 shooting to go along with a game high 13 rebounds. Baylor shot 52.3% from the field as a team, and held Iowa State to just 10-29 on 3-pointers.
KenPom.com – Baylor wins 82-81 (52% chance for win)
Massey.com – Baylor wins 81-80 (52% chance for win)
Tim Watkins, BearsIllustrated.com - Baylor wins 85-81
Simply put, the Bears NEED this win. They have to get this game in the bag and defend their home court. To lose 4-straight Big 12 home games is just not something that a NCAA tournament team should do. Expect Taurean Prince and Al Freeman to have big games, as the Cyclones push more attention to Jonathan Motley and Rico Gathers.