NCAA Basketball

Iowa State Cyclones Men’s Basketball Preview: We’re Talkin’ Kansas State

Saturday’s action saw Iowa State fall on the road in Stillwater by a final score of 61-59. Osun Osunniyi led the Cyclones, scoring 15 points and adding 7 rebounds and 3 blocks. Gabe Kalscheur also scored 14 points.

Iowa State played a very solid first half, leading at halftime by 10, and allowed just 25 points in the first 20 minutes. In the second half, Oklahoma State slowly got back into the game as they increased the defensive pressure. Specifically, pushing Iowa State out toward the half court interrupted the flow of the offense.

Offensively, Oklahoma State finally had a good half. They rank 139th in adjusted offense after the game, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the box score as they finished 44% from the floor and 43% from deep, 9-21 threes. They even got 2 from Avery Anderson, who was 0-16 in Big 12 play before this game. Drinking.

The biggest takeaways for me were that the loss of Caleb Grill significantly hurt the offense (0 points in 17 minutes), Osun continues to play at a near-elite level, and Tre King, despite the last shot, is getting better and better and maybe deserves starters minutes.

Kansas State is on the way and earns a top 5 ranking after home wins over Kansas and Texas Tech. They are also a little hard to figure out. Overall, their offense has been very good with a solid defense to pair with.

In non-conference, their best win was over either Nevada or LSU, with a loss to Butler sprinkled in. Big 12-wise, almost every opponent (sans WVU) is a common opponent with a common record (sans Kansas). They beat WVU at home by 6, gave up over 100 points in a road win at Texas, beat Baylor by 2 on the road, won by 8 at home over Oklahoma State, lost by 14 at TCU, beat Kansas at home by 1 , and won at home against Tech with 10. Kenpom-wise, they are 33rd in both adjusted defense and offense.

The stats across the board are very similar to Iowa State’s, although they assist with more baskets and don’t get as many steals as the Cyclones. They are also better from the FT line, but Iowa State is below average in that area.

There are really only two players worth watching in Keyontae Johnson and Markquis Nowell, but both are probably worth watching. Let’s start with Johnson.

He averages 18.6 points per game. game to go with 8.6 boards per games in his last five on over 50% three-point shooting while shooting 48% from the floor. He doesn’t take many threes, but when he does, they’re usually good looks and they go in. The 6’6″ forward is tough to guard from a skill standpoint, but Tre King and Gabe Kalscheur should physically match up nicely with Hey M.

Markquis Nowell is the diminutive straw that stirs the drink for the Wildcats. With 19 PPG to go with 7.4 assists per game over his last 5, it’s easy to see what he does for this team. In addition to his distribution skills, he can fill it up, shooting 34.4% from three in those games. He is an excellent free throw shooter and will also get to the line quite often.

  1. Kansas State has 15 turnovers
  2. Iowa State makes 10 three pointers
  3. Tre King scores 12+ points and grabs 6+ rebounds

This should be fun and tough, but a game Iowa State can win. BPI gives them a 77% chance to win this game and I like the Cyclones to bounce back in this spot.

Kansas State, while dangerous, is easy to scout: Johnson and Nowell are the focal points and the guys you need to plan around. Arkansas transfer Desi Sills has been a very good player off the bench, but their two bigs are the ones you have to stop. King/Kalscheur will most likely get the assignment for Johnson, although Osun could take him in a heartbeat. Nowell will likely be Tamin’s charge, with Holmes also guarding him. Grill, if he plays, will be in this equation as well.

In close games or losses, turnovers and missing shots have been their downfall. Fortunately for the Cyclones, they excel at forcing turnovers and primarily only give up tough shots. Hard shots, folks, are generally hard to make. Never say I don’t know ball. As long as the defensive intensity (with a little help from the Hilton faithful) is there, Iowa State should be able to disrupt passes and force contested looks.

Offensively, missing Caleb Grill certainly adds more questions. Tre King will likely get the start and he has played well the last 4-5 games. If Kalscheur and Holmes give you 15+ points with contributions from Osun and from King, they should be able to score enough to win this game.

Give me the Cyclones with a final score of 79-72.

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