The Preview: Cyclones vs Longhorns

As I type this the “to foul or not foul” debate is raging as hot as ever. It was a decision that played a role in the Cyclones loss in Lawrence but, if anything, Iowa State learned what they are made of and capable of and it is time to move on. And that means it is time for the Longhorns and their young and struggling squad.

Aside from the win over North Carolina at home which is getting less and less impressive as days go by this year has been a colossal disappointment for Texas. It started with the Myck Kabongo suspension, involved a loss to Chaminade as well as losses to decent teams but name programs in USC, Georgetown, UCLA, and Michigan State.

Most recently they dropped a road overtime game in Waco and blew a late 13 point lead at home to West Virginia—a team struggling through its own disappointments.

The Longhorns top eight players in terms of percentage of minutes on the court are all freshmen or sophomores and according to Ken Pomeroy they are the most inexperienced team in the country. That said, they have gained some meaningful experience with their schedule to date. Below is the player impact table.

Sheldon McClellan and Lewis are their primary scorers with Holmes chipping in as well. But the first column that jumps out at me is their eFG% where you can see only two players are above 50% while the Cyclones have four above 55%. Quite frankly, Texas has been a team that has lacked efficiency on offense and struggled mightily to score at times.

Only two of their players make more than one three pointer per 50 possessions played while ISU has three that meet that criteria, including Tyrus McGee who averages 3.32 per 50 possessions. Offensive category after offensive category you can see that the Iowa State half of the chart is predominantly more red than the Texas half.

When Longhorns have the ball…

They have been struggling, a lot. The only area that has them in the upper half of the Big 12 is assist percentage at 4th. They are shooting poorly from three, two, and even the free throw line.

On the flip side of the coin the Cyclone defense hasn’t been great but also hasn’t been terrible. The one saving grace is the defensive rebounding percentage that is leading the league but there are very few areas where Iowa State is in the bottom three or four slots.

When the Cyclones have the ball…

If anything was affirmed at Kansas on Wednesday it was the Cyclones three point shooting ability and steadfastness with continuing to shoot the deep ball. Because of that shooting they are third in effective field goal percentage and points per possession.

They are again toward the top of the rebounding heap at 38.93%, which is second best in the league. Iowa State could stand to get to the line more often and make them at a slightly better clip as well.

In compensation for the Texas offense that is struggling they sport one of the best scoring defenses in the league. Leading the way by allowing just 0.85 points per possession, limiting made threes at the best rate, and effective field goal percentage.

They could do better with rebounding to really round out the strong defense but they will most definitely pose a challenge for the Iowa State offense on Saturday.

The loss for ISU at Kansas won’t be completely forgotten anytime soon but, and I hate doing this, to quote Gene Chizik, “you can’t let ‘em beat ya twice.” Not only is this game with Texas big to get on track for the conference schedule in general but the next five games are very winnable for the Cyclones. The only road games in that stretch are against Texas Tech and TCU, which means it is time to go on a winning streak.

But that all starts on Saturday with the ‘Horns. I think the Cyclones shake the loss immediately and come out looking solid from the tip. There will likely be some rough patches but I’m guessing a win in the neighborhood of 70-60.

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