What to Know
Thursday night's game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Iowa State Cyclones will be the 48th meeting between the teams. The Hawkeyes have won 25 of the 47 games. The teams have played every season since the 1970-71 season and played twice in the 2002-03 season. Recently, it hasn't been much of a rivalry at all. The Cyclones have won 6 of the last 7 games, with the only Hawkeye win coming back in December of 2012.
The Hawkeyes were in command last season in Ames, but fell apart late in the second half and the talented Cyclones came roaring back to snag the W by a final score of 83-82. This year, the Cyclones will be without Georges Niang, Abdel Nader, and Jameel McKay. Or in other words, three of their top five scorers from a season ago. The hit the lottery when senior point guard Monte Morris decided to return off a very good junior season and got Naz Mitrou-Long back after he received a medical redshirt last season.
The Cyclones are 6-2 this season with two close losses. One to a solid Gonzaga team in the finals of the AdvoCare Invitational and the other to a tough Cincinnati team at home. The losses combined total 3 points. Although, in the game against Gonzaga the Cyclones had to claw their way back in it as the Zags blew an 18 point lead.
Their best win is against Miami (FL), who they beat handily. And they just got done pounding Nebraska-Omaha by a final of 91-47. The Mavericks beat the Hawkeyes in Iowa City on Saturday by 9.
They start five seniors and bring one off the bench, so in regards to experience, they have a ton of it. They are a typical Iowa State team in the fact that they don't go very deep into their bench. They are going to play probably 8 guys against Iowa, but the 8 they have are solid.
One thing Iowa may be able to do is get the ball on the low block and score in the paint. Merrill Holden is their tallest guy at 6'8", but Iowa's Cordell Pemsl is going to have 25 pounds on him. Deonte Burton could step in, but then Pemsl would have three inches on Burton. The Cyclones, like the past three teams, could have issues with Pemsl on the block.
Who to Know
Monte Morris is the straw that stirs the Cyclone drink at the point guard spot. He's averaging 15 points and 6 assists per game playing around 30 minutes per. He does a good job getting to the rim and finding open teammates. He makes everyone on his team better. Morris can also score when he wants to. He's shooting 50% from the field so far this season.
Burton is the other big Cyclone to know. He is averaging right around 15 points and 8 rebounds, playing about 26 minutes per game. He's shooting an astounding 47% from behind the arc and funny enough, he's also shooting 47% from the field. Burton plays the 4 in Iowa State's lineup, but he's not your traditional 4-man. He's a little undersized at 6'5", but holds his own in there weighing 250 pounds.
He's proving how dynamic he is with his stat line. Along side the 15 & 8 he averages, he also averages 1.5 steals per game and 1.3 blocks per game. So, he's been doing a little bit of everything for Steve Prohm.
Matt Thomas and Naz Long are two players that the Cyclones rely on heavily for support. They both have the ability to fill it up from behind the arc, so the Hawkeyes will need to know where both of those sharp shooters are at all times. Don't be fooled by Long's 26% 3 point shooting this season, he can stroke it. Long will come in averaging 13 points a contest, while Thomas averages 11.
Those four players combine to average around 54 points per game for ISU. The Hawkeyes will likely need to slow a couple of them down to defeat the Cyclones.
Stats to Know
We've watched the Hawkeyes play defense this season and it hasn't been pretty to watch. On the flip side, the Cyclones are pretty solid on that side of the ball. They rank first in the Big 12 in terms of FG percentage (35%) defense and third in the Big 12 in 3pt percentage (31%) defense. Iowa has the ability to score with the best of them, but they'll face a tough test in the form of the Iowa State Cyclones.
Despite their lack of size, they actually lead the conference in rebounding, averaging around 46 of them per game. However, they also allow the most rebounds out of any Big 12 team (39 per game). That suggests to me that it's just their fast style of play that is kind of skewing these numbers a bit. Their lock down defense has a lot to do with it, because they get a lot of misses on defense and do a good job of grabbing defensive rebounds.
One of the biggest things I am looking at is the fact that they have not played a true road game yet. They've played five home games and three neutral site games. Carver Hawkeye was fairly dead against Stetson on Monday, but Iowa State is a whole different animal. Their should be plenty of fans their backing this young Iowa team. However, with the experience the Cyclones have, they should handle a hostile road environment well.