Baylor vs Iowa State Preview

Baylor vs Iowa State Preview

The Bears look to avoid their first losing streak of the 2012-2013 campaign as they travel north to the land of the Cyclones.

The Bears let one get away from them Wednesday night. With a big comeback falling short against Oklahoma, Baylor left a game on the table so to speak. They lost a critical home game to another member of the 5 teams bunched together in the standings of the Big 12. I truly believe that 1 one of those five teams will miss the NCAA tournament, as I just don't see the Big 12 getting 6 bids this year. With the Bears just 1-1 against those other teams (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Iowa State) with both games coming at home, the Bears need to steal a road win against one of those four teams to get back on schedule.



Iowa State


















AP Poll



Coaches Poll



Luckily for the Bears, such a chance presents itself this Saturday night against Iowa State. The Cyclones come into the game losers of two of their past three contests. They lost a nail-biter to Oklahoma State 78-76 on the road, and then had one of the worst losses in Big 12 play this year, losing 56-51 to Texas Tech in Lubbock. Those two losses have the Cyclones at 14-6 on the year and a 4-3 record in conference (also lost to Kansas).

NCAA Basketball Stats

The Cyclones so far have feasted on weaker teams this year, with only 3 of their 14 wins coming against teams in KenPom's Top 100 (BYU, Texas and Kansas State). All three of those games have been at home, while they have lost to Cincinnati, UNLV, Iowa, and Kansas either on the road or a neutral floor. Per usual, ISU is much more dangerous at home. Last year, they lost just two games at home (a curious defeat to Northern Iowa in November and then a top 10 ranked Missouri team in conference play). Hilton Magic is alive in well, as you can see, a place that the Bears have never won in 10 tries.

The Cyclones are led by Will Clyburn, a 6-7 wing player who is their leading scorer and second leading rebounder. He will be a very tough matchup for the Bears, as they just don't have a player that size available at the wing spot. He gets 7.5 boards per game, and is more of a slasher and mid-range player than a threat from 3-point range. He is excellent at isolation plays, and gets to the rim well, or he kicks it out to one of the several 3-point shooters they have.

Alongside him in the front court is Melvin Ejim, a 6-6 230 pound power forward in every sense of the word. He is one of the better rebounders in the country, and someone the Bears have to keep off the glass to win this game. The Cyclones run a truly balanced offensive attack with 6 players averaging more than 9 points per game (Clyburn, Ejim, Tyus McGee, Georges Niang, Korie Lucious, and Chris Babb). Those 6 players all average over 23 minutes per game, and will carry the load unless they get into foul trouble.

College Basketball Stats

Keys to the Game

-Defend from the outside in – Iowa State takes 41% of their shots from behind the arc, a startling amount for any team. Not only do they shoot a ton, they actually make a pretty good percentage of them, at 36.8% (56th best in the country). They have the 4th most 3-pointers made per game in the country at 9.3 (also 5th most attempts with 25.2). Part of the reason why they are so dangerous is the multitude of options they have from behind the arc.





Tyrus McGee




Korie Lucious




Chris Babb




Will Clyburn




McGee is the main guy to watch out for, as he is shooting a blistering 45.80% this year from behind the arc. Two out of every three shots he attempts are 3-pointers, with 91% of those coming off of assists, meaning the Cyclones will run him around and around until he has a second to catch and shoot. The Bears will have to fight through screens, and help off of those screens to take his shot away.

However, the Cyclones at times will have 5 guys on the floor at once that can hit from 3-point range, as both of their primary post players can extend the defense as well in Melvin Ejim (14-34 at 41.2%) and Georges Niang (15-41 for 36.6%). I expect to see Coach Fred Hoiberg take a lot of what the Sooners did against Baylor and see if the Bears learned anything in their few days between games.

-Destroy them on the boards – This is the one aspect of the OU game that went the Bears way, and it has to even more against Iowa State. The Sooners put out two post players that were in the 6-9 range. Iowa State's post players are more in the 6-7, though they do present more size at the small forward position in Will Clyburn at 6-7. Yet, the Cyclones still rebound at a very good level, getting 54.4% of the rebounds (24th best in the country, compared to the Bears 51.9% for 93rd). However, the Cyclones are not elite at either side of the court, just pretty good at both. They rank 38 in defensive rebounding and 50th in offensive rebounding percentage. However, in conference play, they are only getting 28.6% of the offensive rebounds and 68.7% of their defensive rebounds (down from 35.5% and 74% which are their yearly averages).

Their defensive rebounding percentage is boosted by Melvin Ejim, who gets a huge amount of the rebounds for them (26.4%, 14th best rate in the country). He is also excellent on the offensive glass 913%, 92nd best), but most of their rebounds offensively are scattered around the team, something you would expect from a team that shoots so many 3-pointers. Long shots equals long rebounds, so the Baylor guards will have to attack the glass, something they have been very good at recently. The Bears though have to block out Melvin Ejim and use their height advantage over him, who at just 6-6 is more like Ricardo Gathers than any other post player in the Big 12. In fact, Ejim is what Baylor fans should hope Gathers grows into the next few years, a rebounding monster who shoots a solid percentage from the field and does a lot of the dirty work.

-Ugly the game up a bit – Outside of Ejim, the Cyclones are much more of a finesse team than they are a rough and tumble team. They don't block a lot of shots (218th most in the country) and they don't shoot a ton inside (27% of shot attempts are at the rim, compared to 35% for the Bears, a huge difference). The Cyclones also have one of the better quick strike offenses in the game. 25% of their possessions end within 10 seconds of them getting the ball, either by a rebound, opponents made basket, a steal or a dead ball turnover.

They are especially dangerous off of rebounds and steal, making an effective field goal rate of 53% off of rebounds and 68% off of steal when they shoot within 10 seconds. The Bears cannot let them get out and run. We have to have Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson attack the offensive glass and keep possessions alive by themselves, while the three other players head back in transition defense.

The Bears also cannot turn the ball over in the open floor against the Cyclones. A dead ball turnover is significantly better than giving the Cyclones at shot at a transition three-pointer. Luckily, the Cyclones don't force many turnovers (19.9% of their defensive possessions end in a turnover – 203rd in the country), so the Bears can't give them freebies.

The Bears also need to play with a purpose on both ends of the court and take their time. This means work the offense, as well as don't gamble on defense trying to get steals or blocks. The Cyclones play at the 56th fastest pace in the country, compared to 99th for the Bears. One way for the Bears to slow the game down is to attack the rim and get to the foul line. The Baylor offense is just so much better when Cory Jefferson is involved and getting to the foul line at a high rate. He along with Pierre Jackson are the only two Bears that have the ability to get the opposition in foul trouble. Jackson is good at drawing fouls (129th best in the country at 5.6 fouls drawn per 40 minutes) , while Jefferson only averages 4.4, primarily due to his inconsistency. Ricardo Gathers is developing into a player that can draw fouls, but he is not trustworthy at the foul line.

Predictions –

KenPom – Bears lose 76-74 (40% chance for win)

Massey – Bears lose 76-74 (44% chance for win)

TeamRanking – Bears lose 69.9-67.6 (43.1% chance for win)

BearsIllustrated – Bears lose 72-70

Honestly, at this point, I would probably pick a loss if the game was in Waco. The Bears just seem to love focus when in the friendly confines of the Ferrell Center. The Bears are 3-1 in true road games this year, with the one loss coming against Kansas. However, the Hilton Coliseum has not been kind to the Bears. They are winless in 10 trips there already, so is #11 lucky for the Bears? Plus, if you think the Bears struggled to defend the Sooners post in the mid and long range, get ready for more of the same from Iowa State.

None of their post players are true inside threats, but all of their players with good size can hit those mid-range or longer shots. Clyburn (6-7), Ejim (6-6), Niang (6-7) are getting the bulk of the minutes right now, with Percy Gibson (6-9) being their only true post player with size that can't stretch the defense. 6-9 Anthony Booker would also be an option, though he is hurt right now with a back injury that has held him out of the last two games.

I just don't see the Bears going into Ames, IA this year and coming out with a win, especially with the way we played the Sooners on Wednesday night, when the Cyclones can do that type of game-plan even better than Oklahoma did. Recommended Stories