Your Iowa basketball Hawkeyes head to Ames today to play their Iowa State Cyclones in the latest iteration of a Cy-Hawk matchup that could add another resume-building win for either side.
Each team comes into the game with three losses, though Iowa has one more win under its belt at 7-3 compared to State’s 6-3 record.
Both squads also face each other riding a win—Iowa got its first conference W over Minnesota on Monday night, while Iowa State took down No. 16 Seton Hall Sunday night to earn its best win of the season.
The Cyclones are led by sophomore guard Tyrese Haliburton, their leader in scoring, assists, and steals. He had 10 points and 5 assists in Iowa’s 98-84 win in last year’s game, and is likely the biggest test Iowa’s defense has faced all year. He’s shooting a blistering 40 percent from range and has the ability to frustrate opponents on both sides of the court as demonstrated by his nearly 3 steals a game.
Another familiar face on Iowa State’s roster is guard Rasir Bolton—the sophomore was granted immediate eligibility after transferring from Penn State this year. He had 16 points for the Nits in Iowa’s 89-82 win over PSU last year, and is ISU’s second-leading scorer after Haliburton.
Iowa faces an uphill battle historically and presently in this matchup—the Hawkeyes haven’t beaten the Cyclones in Ames since 2004, which is almost impossible to believe. This is also the fourth game in nine days for Iowa, which is staring at the weeklong break that awaits them following the contest.
This is as hobbled an Iowa team I can ever remember, and things are only going to get hairier if this ends up being the last game of the season for Jordan Bohannon, as has been whispered here and elsewhere for the past two weeks. Still, like the odds of him giving Iowa one last win as it builds a case for playing in March.
Expect a healthy dose of Luka Garza, as he’s basically having the best start to a season in Hawkeye history. A combination of Michael Jacobson and Solomon Young will be tasked with trying to stop Garza and State very well could send a double team his way all night, in an act of respect towards Garza (and perhaps disrespect towards Iowa’s perimeter shooting).
He’s been nearly silent this year, but I’m looking forward to seeing Cordell Pemsl play tonight. Almost non-factor so far this season, Pemsl had a crucial 8 points and 6 boards and rattled State’s cage off the bench last year and it’d be nice to have him put together a similar night this go around.
Iowa State stands a 4.5-point favorite in this one, and that sounds about right considering the talent advantage the Cyclones have across the roster. That being said, if Garza can still play like God and Joe Wieskamp proves his early season struggles were a blip and if Bohannon can give us his last hip, then I suspect Iowa will have a real shot to win this one.