Thoughts: Trouble With the Foul, More

If we had to nit-pick with Iowa State's 6-0 start, it'd be the foul trouble and lack of forced turnovers. Everything else — the shooting, the efficiency, the pace, the overall defense — has been stellar

No. 17 Iowa State moved to 6-0 on the season with a 99-70 win over Auburn on Monday night. Here are 10 thoughts on the game and the season thus far.

1. To score 22 points like Dustin Hogue did, and only miss two shots, and to pull down 16 rebounds like Dustin Hogue did, and not pick up a foul, makes his final stat line even more impressive.

Hogue's misses — one under the basket and one corner three-pointer — as the most efficient shots in basketball, and he proved again he can hit the occasional outside shot, 2-for-3 from distance, with makes in the left corner and left wing.

2. While the Cyclones didn't get out to a good start against Auburn, it wasn't a case of total lethargy. Rather, they were just missing shots. Iowa State began the game 2-for-12 from the field before a Dustin Hogue putback cut the Auburn lead to 12-7 and two possessions later Matt Thomas drilled a three-pointer.

3. There were two really tough non-conference tests early in the season against Michigan and BYU that forced Fred Hoiberg to keep his bench short. Having to do that so early can compromise a young team — you go from getting everybody minutes in exhibitions to two weeks later only playing the ones you really trust — so it's good for the Cyclones to have this stretch of easy games, UMKC then Auburn, to get two blowouts under their belt and empty their bench.

They probably won't be afforded that opportunity Friday against Northern Iowa then against the Iowa Hawkeyes a few days later and there's only one game left on the schedule (Northern Illinois) that'll be a totally smooth ride.

4. Georges Niang fouled out Monday night and right now is being called for 5.5 fouls per 40 minutes, according to kenpom.

Last season Niang was whistled for 4.8 fouls a game.

That number right there is perhaps the biggest issue facing the Cyclones currently. Niang has been the recipient of some tough calls but isn't doing a smart job moving his feet and picking his spots.

Also, Niang played the worst game of his career last night and it didn't matter one big. His offensive rating of 65 is the worst mark he's ever had and the three turnovers are tied for a career high (he's turned the ball over every game this season, with three TOs occurring thrice and two occurring twice).

5. Same goes for Melvin Ejim, who picked up two quick fouls and is being called for 4.3 per 40 minutes.

6. Let's flip around the foul conversation. DeAndre Kane attempted six free throws Monday night and is currently drawing 6.3 fouls per game, No. 191 nationally (yes, per kenpom. Next-highest for Iowa State is Melvin Ejim and his 4.3.

7. The way Matt Thomas shoots in practice and warmups, you'd expect him to take whatever he wants in games. He doesn't, and he's had several games where he's missed much more than he's made, but Monday Thomas was 4-for-8 from behind the three-point line to raise his season percentage up to 40 (14-for-35).

Thomas could be getting going.

8. Some really good defensive signs for the Cyclones at this point. They're No. 21 in adjusted defensive efficiency (94.5, with the D-1 average at 103.6) and fourth in effective defensive field goal percentage (39.2) while opponents are snatching up 23.3 percent of available offensive rebounds, No. 7 nationally.

The Cyclones are also holding opponents to 24.5 percent from three (No. 15 nationally) and 39.7 percent on two-point shots (No. 10 nationally).

9. The one thing the Cyclones struggle at defensively is forcing turnovers. Only 15 percent of their defensive possessions end in turnovers, No. 317 nationally, and only 6.7 end in a steal, No. 297 nationally.

Will that change the longer these season wears on and Iowa State's defensive rotations tighten up?

We'll see.

10. And then there's no surprise Iowa State's adjusted tempo (total possessions divided by minutes) is eighth-quickest in the country at 75.4 with an average possession length of 14.3 seconds, seventh-shortest in the country.

Iowa State's adjusted offensive efficiency is 112.4, No. 36 nationally, with an effective field goal percentage of 58.2 No. 11 nationally.


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