While this is the portion of the schedule which allows Iowa State to breathe easiest — from Feb. 8 to Feb. 26, the Cyclones play one ranked team, Texas at home — nobody expects tonight's contest at West Virginia to be any romp.
No. 11 Iowa State (18-4, 6-4 Big 12) has won three in a row, a nice correction after a three-game losing streak Jan. 11-18, and after tonight will return home for a two-game homestand.
In conference play, the Mountaineers (14-10, 6-5) have been very poor defensively, but overall they've played well lately, winning four of their last six games, including three straight home wins over Oklahoma, Kansas State and Texas Tech.
"I see an extremely confident team, playing with a lot of freedom," Hoiberg said of WVU on the Big 12 teleconference Monday. "They're very difficult to guard, run a lot of ball screens.
"Staten's shooting the heck out of the ball. Then you're surrounding him with shooters. When you have a point guard that gets into the paint like Staten, it opens it up."
Since their Big 12 slate began Jan. 4, the Mountaineers are shooting 35.4 percent from distance and are drawing 29.3 percent of their points from three-pointers. Both marks are fourth in the conference.
Had West Virginia converted better than 6 of 23 three-pointers Saturday at Kansas, it would have stuck around longer. In five games prior to the 83-69 loss to the Jayhawks, West Virginia shot a combined 44-for-109 from the perimeter (40 percent).
Eron Harris is WVU's marksman to watch. The former Scout.com three-star takes a Buddy Hield-like volume of three-point shots and makes them at a nice clip (42.1).
Below are screen-caps from Harris' games against Kansas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State — he shot 15-for-29 — which we've pulled to illustrate that while he's getting looks from everywhere, they're mostly coming on the wings, suggesting Harris is pulling the trigger while rolling off screens. Note the lack of corner shots. Data is pulled from the CBSSports.com game tracker. Green dots indicates makes.
Iowa State has seen opponents shoot 37.2 percent against it from three-point range in conference play. This mostly has more to do with opponents than the Cyclones, but perhaps it does suggest defensive rotations have been a bit slow.
DeAndre Kane Returns
Actually, Kane has never faced West Virginia in a true road environment. Marshall and the Mountaineers hold a neural-site joist each season, meaning Kane will for the first time settle into the comfy confines of the WVU Coliseum, which seats 14,000.
In three career games against WVU, Kane's team is 1-2, but Kane's personal numbers aren't bad: 16.7 points per contest on 45.5 percent shooting, with 10 assists to 12 turnovers suggesting he had to do too much for under-matched Marshall.
The WVU student section will take shots at Kane tonight and while he'll likely play more pissed-off than usual, he'll need to stay composed. He can't make it personal and play Hero Ball, but Kane could also stand to be more aggressive than he was against TCU (0-for-4).
Shooting-wise, Kane in his last four games has been cold-hot-cold-hot.
If he stays the course, the Cyclones will be in good hands Monday.
If not, maybe Melvin Ejim is game for another 48-18 performance.
Projected Starting Lineups (ht, yr, ppg, rpg, FG %)
*denotes assists per game; ^denotes three-point percentage.