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Iowa Hoops: Cy-Hawk Series renewed as Iowa State visits #3 Hawkeyes

The Hawkeyes look to make it three straight against the Cyclones for the first time since 1988-90

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Iowa State Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

The #3 Iowa Hawkeyes (4-0) look to continue their hot start against the one true in-state rivals, the 1-1 Iowa State Cyclones. Iowa will be looking to make it their first time they’ve won three straight in the series since 1988-1990. ISU has completed the threepeat twice since then, thank you for asking.

The ‘clones are coached by Steve Prohm, who is in his sixth year leading the program. He’s got some feathers in his cap with a Sweet 16 in his first year and two Big 12 tournament championships (2017 & 2019) which accentuate an overall record of 96-64 (60%) while going 40-50 (44%) in conference play.

They’re coming off a 12-20 season which saw first round draft pick Tyrese Halliburton plagued by injury, eventually sidelining him for the back half of the conference season. Do they beat Florida A&M with him? Probably.

Their season finished with a conference tournament loss to Oklahoma State.

They’ve started the season with a win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff and loss to South Dakota State. A third game against DePaul was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns with the Blue Demons.

The trendline, so far, for the Cyclones is stagnant from last year which is not a good spot to be. But hey, they’re a football school now.

Three Guys

Jalen Coleman-Lands (G, 6’4”, 187 lbs): If you think you’ve heard this name against the Hawkeyes before, it’s because you have. The Illinois transfer via DePaul has played Iowa 5 times before (last year with DePaul & four times in the 2016/2017 seasons with Illinois). Overall he’s averaged 13.8 points, gathered 14 boards, and dished 10 assists against the Hawks.

Though he’s not known for his three-point shooting, he’s been really good in that area against Iowa, going 20/42 (48%). Yeash. He’s about a 36% shooter from deep in his career but has declined since steadily since posting a 42% hit rate freshman year and is 5/17 though two games this season.

His role has changed a bit with Iowa State as the primary guy where he rarely was before. He previously peaked from a season-long usage percentage at 18.4% but is operating at 28% right now, well above ISU’s #2 highest, Solomon Young.

Please don’t leave him open.

Solomon Young (F, 6’8”, 255 lbs): The fifth-year senior is the lone big man who will occupy Iowa State’s starting lineup. He’s averaging 13.0 points and 2.5 rebounds through two games this season in 24.5 minutes as Prohm divvies up 40 minutes between the three bigs on his roster (George Conditt & Xavier Foster are the others).

He’ll get the first crack at defending Luka Garza and does not have all that strong of a track record doing so. In last year’s game, Garza got to 21 points and was able to help amass 10 fouls between Young, Conditt, and the departed Michael Jacobson. Garza also had 11 boards (6 offensive) so there will need to be improved emphasis there from the Cyclones if they hope to limit Garza’s impact.

Javan Johnson (F, 6’6”, 205 lbs): The Troy transfer sat out last year but has quickly found his role as a wing facilitator in Ames. The junior is averaging 10.5 points and 6.5 assists in a couple games with Iowa State while broadly maintaining his efficiency from a lower level, though he’s leaned a little too much into the three ball this season.

Three Questions

Can Iowa avoid the let down? It is natural to come off a huge win like Iowa’s against North Carolina and not carry through the same emotion. After all, there are only so many times a team can open on an 11-2 run against a team uniquely built to neutralize Iowa’s greatest strength.

Yet it’s important Iowa maintain as much intensity as they can from Tuesday’s top 25 matchup and it is very likely they will. Iowa is a veteran squad and will know they get the Cyclones’ best shot.

The path to an ISU victory is much like how Coleman-Lands’ DePaul beat Iowa - overwhelm early and often - and the 19-2 run was simply too much for the Hawks to overcome. Everyone will need to be conscious to protect that.

Does Garza regain his footing? Only Luka is held to the standard that 16 points and 14 rebounds is an off night, especially considering half of his boards came on the offensive end against the best frontline the Hawks will face this season.

Anyways, who better to regain the form of his first three games than versus Iowa’s in-state rival, who he scored 21 points on 9/16 shooting with 11 rebounds last year.

What happens if the shots aren’t falling? Iowa’s win against UNC was just about a best case scenario of Iowa draining shot after shot after shot with the focus inside on Garza. Yet those types of games aren’t going to happen every time out and Iowa will need to be conscious of not forcing it from deep.

Perhaps the best indicator this team might be different is the 14-0 stretch which sealed the Carolina game where, yes, the shots fell, but the team amped up the activity. They got two offensive rebounds, forced a turnover, and assisted on every made basket save Keegan Murray’s tip in.

Though four games, the Hawkeyes have showed just about everything one would want to see from them en route to a 4-0 record. Could the defense better? Could the minutes be shifted just a smidge? Could they run a little more clock before launching a three?

Every answer above could be answered “yes” but it feels very nitpicky. The Hawkeyes do not need to do much more than what they have shown so far to beat Iowa State tonight. While that might cause some teams to engage their worse habits, the sense I get is just how mission-oriented this bunch is and they come to the game focused and prepared.

We’ll know if they’re true to their word about trying to go 1-0 30-plus times this season because there hasn’t been a Cyclone team in the last decade which has been more easy to overlook than this one.