The Cyclones got back on the winning track after dropping a disappointing game in Lubbock. They now move on to game two of a five game stretch against the other Big 12 teams that seem to be vying for spots 2-6 in the conference race. This next game is of course in Stillwater where by Wednesday everyone on the planet will know the Cyclones have not won since 1988 (Fred Hoiberg was a freshman…in high school).
The slate following the trip to Stillwater gets very interesting and is followed with Baylor, Oklahoma, and a trip to Manhattan. Even after that stretch the following game is in Austin against the struggling Longhorns and the return of Myck Kabongo in what will be a difficult win.
But first up is the Cowboys and Oklahoma State on Wednesday night. The Cowboys are crazy athletic and plenty talented to boot. You’ll hear a lot about super freshman Marcus Smart that is one of the top freshmen in the country. Le’Bryan Nash was that guy last year and this season you hardly hear anything about him, which can be a scary thought. Don’t forget about Markel Brown in that talented backcourt that can not only put up some crazy highlights but he also shoots the three pointers well at 34.8%.
(The player impact table and team stats below now include conference games only.)
Outside of Brown, Phil Forte is the next gunner in line for the Cowboys from outside the arc and shooting 38.7% at 46-119. Forte is making 2.42 three point shots per 50 possessions which is sixth best in the league. Brown, Nash, and Smart are all making the biggest impact for Okie State in both made field goals, attempted field goals and points.
Phillip Jurick is the biggest rebounder for the Cowboys with Cobbins providing the most support. It is worth noting that Smart and Nash are both over the 5% mark on personal possessions played that end with turnovers. Smart does compensate for that with his 5.7% of possessions where he gets a steal which leads the conference.
They are scoring at an average clip so far in Big 12 play and are sixth in points scored per possession, right at one point. They fall in the middle of both three point makes per 50 possessions, three point percentage, two point makes per 50 possessions, and two point percentage. They also get to the line a lot with their 12.35 made free throws per 50 possessions.
Their effective field goal percentage is the third best in the league at 48.13% and their assist percentage is also third. The Cyclone defense is pretty middle of the road in many areas through the first six Big 12 games but holding teams to 0.99 points per possession so far is a good start to the conference season. Their rebounding percentage had them at 9th in league games on defense last week but after their strong performance against the Wildcats they are going to need a similar outing in Stillwater.
When the Cyclones have the ball…
In league games only the Cyclones are leading the way in scoring efficiency at 1.07 points per possession. Much of that can be attributed to their 3rd best three point shooting percentage and their league best 6.88 made three pointers per 50 possessions played. Conversely they are not making a high volume of shots inside the arc. Even so their effective field goal percentage is 51.3% and second best in the conference. What may surprise some based on the gnashing of teeth over the spurts of turnovers is that Iowa State turns the ball over at the lowest rate in the league with just 16.5% of possessions ending with turnovers.
The Iowa State assist percentage and assist to turnover ratio are also encouraging and signs of ball movement within the offense. It would be nice to see the offensive rebounding percentage rise at least a little bit.
The Cowboy defense is 3rd in the league in points allowed per possession at 0.91 and they give up the second fewest made two point shots per 50 possessions. Their field goal and effective field goal percentage defense ranks fourth in both categories while they currently lead the league in defensive rebounding percentage at 77.4%.
Their defense really shines in the turnover percentage at 21.08% which is second best in the conference and also the second best steal percentage at 10.54%. Iowa State can’t fall in to lulls of silly turnovers leading to breakout dunks meant for the Sportscenter Top 10.
It isn’t an easy game by any means and I would maybe rank it as the toughest remaining game—and actually Ken Pomeroy agrees with me giving ISU a 25% chance of winning which is the lowest of all remaining games. Road games in Manhattan, Waco, and Austin will be tough along with Kansas coming to Ames but there is a reason ISU hasn’t won in Stillwater since 1988.
The Cowboys are playing at the fastest pace when looking at league games only by averaging 68.83 possessions per 40 minutes. The interesting thing about that is in games where they have played at the fastest tempo they are 2-4 with their wins coming against Central Arkansas and TCU at home. The good news is that is more in line with how Coach Hoiberg and the Cyclones want to play; the danger is that things can slip away if the turnovers come quick. However, I don’t think that will happen.
This is a talented Oklahoma State team that has some really nice pieces in the backcourt and guys up front that understand their role. However, there is still a lot to learn about the Cowboys because of their league schedule thus far. Their three wins have been at home against three of the bottom four teams in the league and their three losses were at Kansas State, at Oklahoma, and at Baylor–three tough games. I’d hazard to guess it will be close throughout with the Cowboys pulling away into double digits midway through the second half before shots really start falling for the Cyclones, just in time to come up short. Somewhere in the neighborhood of a 75-68 loss.