Looking to claim the Big XII Tournament Title, Buddy Hield and the Oklahoma Sooners find themselves paired against Georges Niang and the Iowa State Cyclones. In a clash of unrivaled experience, the winner will likely face the West Virginia Mountaineers in the semifinals. Needless to say, there are no dips in the quality of an opponent from here on. Until then, here's a look at ISU.
Talent Level Runs High
At the end of the regular season, the Big XII released the conference award winners. Although only two starters in Niang (1st team) and Monte Morris (2nd team) were listed on the All-Conference Squad, three others earned honorable mentions. Add to them Big XII Newcomer of the Year, Deonte Burton and it's easy to recognize the talent this program possesses.
Currently, Niang averages 19.4 points per game on a stellar 54% shooting from the floor. The 6-8 forward has the ability to create for himself forcing opposing defenses into undesired mismatches. Aside from the star of the roster, Morris has the tools to take over a game. Boasting a 4.1 assist to turnover ratio, Morris ranks third in the country while already owning two of the top three assists-to-turnover ratios in NCAA history.
Scorching The Nets
There's no denying this team can light up the scoreboard on any given night as they have done all season long. Putting up 82 points per game, the Cyclones rank 15th in the nation and first in the conference just ahead of the Kansas Jayhawks. Moving the ball efficiently, ISU finds open shots while making the defense work during the entire 40 minutes of play.
Wear & Tear
No starting five plays more minutes than those from ISU who all average 30+ minutes on the court each outing. The number leads the nation in the undesirable stat line. Earlier in the year, it appears as though the Cyclones hit their limit just ahead of the Big XII/SEC Challenge. Losing to Texas A&M that weekend, the Cyclone went on to lose three of the next five as well. The only question remaining for this team is: what do they have left in the tank?
Inability To Create Turnovers & Rebound Consistently
As the level of play goes up, getting stops and forcing turnovers could easily decide any game. Unfortunately for the folks at Iowa State, they fail to create turnovers as well as rebound on at a consistent level. Ranking 202nd in the nation (in a tie with Texas), the Cyclones manage to force 12.42 turnovers a game.
In combination, ISU pulls down an unimpressive 32 rebounds per game. It's no secret that offensive rebounds provide teams with another opportunity to earn points on a single possession. Secondarily, defensive rebounds (as well as forced turnovers) take away a scoring opportunity for the opposition. If Iowa State hopes to make it three in a row, they'll need to figure out a way to sure up these short comings.
Any group willing to play high risk, high reward basketball a la WVU can and will easily take down a program like ISU.