The Cowboys head up to Ames, Iowa for a Tuesday tilt with the Iowa State Cyclones. This will be the second-to-last conference game for the Cowboys before they take on the Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday. Both teams are sputtering into the conference tournament, with Oklahoma State losing three of its last four, and Iowa State has lost four in a row since upsetting Oklahoma. Both these teams are desperate for a win, so this will make for an intriguing matchup.
The Cowboys were able to pull out an overtime thriller in Gallagher-Iba Arena back in early January. They defeated the Cyclones 96-87. After struggling for multiple games in a row, Jeffrey Carroll had a team-high 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting. Kendall Smith was the big story, he had a season-high 20 points, including the floater that tied the game with five seconds left to send it into overtime.
For Iowa State, Donovan Jackson was the story. He had a career-high 30 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including 6-of-8 from three. Nick Weiler-Babb and Solomon Young were only other Cyclones in double figures, with both scoring 12 points each. Star freshman Lindell Wigginton was fairly quiet in this game, only scoring nine points, and he fouled out as well.
Players to Watch
The freshman point guard is the leading scorer on the Cyclones (16.5 PPG). After only scoring nine points in the first matchup, don’t expect him to have another quiet game like that. Although, if he gets to the free throw line, it does get a little bit dicey because he’s only shooting 66% from the line this year.
As we all saw in the first game, Jackson is Iowa State’s sharpshooter. He is shooting 41% from beyond the arc this year, and is the second leading scorer on the Cyclones at 15.4 PPG. The senior has seen a substantial increase in playing time for this year to last year. He is playing double the minutes, and is scoring nine points per game more.
Three Big Things
So far on the season, Iowa State and Oklahoma State are averaging the exact same amount of rebounds per game (36.4). The Cowboys need to set the tone on the glass and get extra possessions on the road. Keeping Mitchell Solomon and Yankuba Sima out of foul trouble is important for this. The Cyclones have multiple players, guards or otherwise, that crash the glass and get rebounds. Cameron Lard leads the team with 8.2 RPG, Nick Weiler-Babb adds 7 RPG from a guard position, and Solomon Young averages 5.9 RPG. If the Cowboys want to win this game, they will have to rebound in order to get extra possessions and not allow second-chance points.
Get out in transition
All season long, the Cowboys are at their best when they can get out in transition and get quick scores early in the shot clock. Oklahoma State must dictate the tempo, and get out and run. They shot well against Texas Tech, and at times against Texas, when they got shots early from getting out in transition. If Iowa State slows this game down, then Oklahoma State could start to struggle offensively. Setting the tone offensively early is important, especially on the road. If the Cowboys can do that, then this game could swing in their favor.
Use the energy in Hilton Coliseum
Iowa State plays in one of the best venues in college basketball. It’s not Allen Fieldhouse or Cameron Indoor, but fans show up and sell out this arena constantly, regardless of the team’s record. This is also the last home game of the season for the Cyclones, so the crowd will definitely be rowdy. The Cowboys seem to feed off of the home crowd’s energy and use it to their advantage on the road. If the Cowboys can use that energy and get off to a good start, they can find a way to get another road victory.
It is very difficult to win in Ames, Iowa. But, Jeffrey Carroll and Mitchell Solomon have the chance to do something that a group of Cowboy seniors hasn’t done since 1954: win in every conference arena. With that in mind, and coming off of a loss that I’m sure left a bad taste in their mouth on Saturday, the Cowboys could come out firing. With both teams desperate to get a win, this will be an evenly matched game, back and forth the whole way like it was in Stillwater. However, I think Iowa State pulls away late for another close loss for the Pokes.
Iowa State- 72, Oklahoma State- 67