Oklahoma State was coming off of the most impressive 3-game winning streak in the country last week, and slipped up to the TCU Horned Frogs in Fort Worth on Saturday. While the loss to the Horned Frogs was a surprise and a let-down, all is not lost for the Cowboys, as they are still in prime position for a single-digit seed in the NCAA tournament.
Before the Pokes start thinking about the tournament though, they have to get through the rest of their schedule. Iowa State comes in to GIA second in the conference, and fourteenth in the country. Here's a look at the Cowboys projected starting lineup for the game.
#22 OSU Cowboys Projected Starting Lineup
|G||Anthony Hickey Jr.||25||29.5||9.1||4.6||3.6||2||0.2||1.5||0.41||0.37||0.35|
|G||Phil Forte III||25||33.8||17||2.2||1.7||2.1||0||1.8||0.45||0.85||0.41|
Iowa State comes into the game coming off a 20-point win against West Virginia in Ames on Saturday. The Cyclones shot 56% in that game, and held West Virginia to 37% shooting, and 32% from behind the arc. Let's take a look at their projected starting lineup.
#14 ISU Cyclones Projected Starting Lineup
The last meeting between these two teams was back in January in Ames, and the Cyclones held off the Cowboys 63-61. Dustin Hogue blocked two 3-point attempts at the end of regulation that would've given the Cowboys the win.
One thing to watch for this matchup is the ability for Naz Long to log some quality minutes. Long is Iowa State's top 3-point shooting threat, and only put up a season-low 12 minutes on Saturday, due to a bruised hip. Long was withheld from practice on Monday.
Keys To The Game
GET PHIL FORTE INVOLVED
The loss at TCU was only the second time Phil Forte has been held under 10 points this season, with the other occasion coming during the loss at South Carolina. It's no secret that Phil Forte is OSU's top perimeter weapon, and OSU will need to be able to find a way to compliment Le'Bryan Nash's inside scoring ability, and that starts with getting Forte open.
DON'T LET NIANG GET HOT
Georges Niang is Iowa State's leading scorer at 14.7 PPG, and when he gets going, he is tough to stop. When Naz Long is healthy, and Monte Morris is hitting his shots, Iowa State is an extremely tough matchup, as they have 6 players who average over 10 PPG. The key to beating them starts with slowing down Niang, who is arguably the nation's most versatile player. He is strong enough to bang inside with the bigs, and quick enough to step out and shoot the 3.
REBOUND, REBOUND, REBOUND
Iowa State is an effective defensive rebounding team, averaging 36.4 rebounds per game. While the Cyclones don't have a rebounding monster like Rico Gathers, they do have a few guys who average near 6 rebounds per game. Jameel Mckay and Bryce DeJean-Jones both average over 5.5 rebounds per game, and Georges Niang averages 5.4. Oklahoma State will need to do a good job keeping McKay and DeJean-Jones off the offensive glass, to limit Iowa State kickout opportunities.
While this is a tough opponent for the Pokes, they match up rather well with Iowa State. Both teams are similar in offensive style, but OSU is a stifling defensive team, especially at home. I expect the Pokes to rebound well, and pick themselves up at home on Wednesday in front of a raucous GIA crowd.
Oklahoma State 69, Iowa State 62