If ever there was a golden opportunity to remove yourself from the dreaded “Last Four In, First Four Out, Next Four Out” list ESPN’s Joe Lunardi puts out, this is it for Iowa State. Head coach Fred Hoiberg‘s Cyclones host No. 13 Oklahoma State tonight at the Hilton Coliseum.
As of today, Iowa State is one of the “Last Four In” playing a First Four game against Temple, but a win tonight would almost certainly push them into the field for sure. Last time these teams met, the Cowboys escaped with a two-point win in Stillwater–this time, it’s Senior Night in Ames and Hilton Magic will be in full effect.
The Cowboys (22-6, 12-4 Big 12) have won 10 of 11 and three straight following a double overtime loss to No. 9 Kansas and are a lock to dance in the tournament. Their offense features a duo of scorers who can light it up on any given night in guards Markel Brown (15.7 ppg) and Marcus Smart (14.6 ppg). The two also account for more than half the Cowboys’ assists, so they aren’t just score-first guards.
OK State also features a pretty solid defense that allows only 61.2 ppg and limits opponents to just 38.6% shooting. They’ll need every ounce of defense to contain the Cyclones.
Iowa State (19-10, 9-7) features the fourth-highest scoring offense in college basketball, scoring 79.7 points per game. They’ve got five players averaging at least 10 points per contest, led by Will Clyburn‘s 14.6 and one more averaging a tick less (Chris Babb, 9.3 ppg). Canadian-born forward Melvin Ejim (10.8 ppg, 9.4 rpg) is a double-double machine, with 12 on the season–unfortunately he gets into a lot of foul trouble.
Iowa State is a very good team and will get Oklahoma State’s best but Hoiberg’s boys know they’re fighting for their tournament life. Expect the Cyclones to pull off the “upset” and strengthen their grip on a tournament berth.