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Iowa vs #20 Iowa State: Preview, How to Watch, + Game Thread

Iowa looks to bounce back against an in-state rival

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

The Iowa Hawkeyes (6-2) are back in Carver-Hawkeye Arena to play in-state rival and the 20th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones (7-1). The initial story is, of course, the fact that Iowa’s less than 48 hours off a loss to Duke in Madison Square Garden while ISU last played on Sunday, a win against St. John’s. Nonetheless, DraftKings has Iowa as 4-point favorites as of this writing.

The Cyclones used two wins in Phil Knight’s vanity project to vault themselves into the rankings, notching Ws over Villanova and then-undefeated and #1 ranked North Carolina. KenPom has them rated 39th, up 23 spots from where they began the season. Under TJ Otzelberger, the Cyclones are 21-2 when playing out of conference.

They enter with a top-10 defense which forces turnovers at the elite rate, though it’s worth noting each of Villanova, North Carolina, & UConn scored at a rate greater than 1 point/possession. The two best defenses Iowa has played - TCU & Duke - held the Hawks under that mark. So it’s a game of strength on strength, presuming Iowa finds their shot in the friendly confines of CHA.

Below are a couple other thoughts and how to watch.

How does Iowa generate points? In five of nine games, the Hawks have shot 33.3% or less from deep. They were able to beat Seton Hall & Clemson despite the poor shooting by hitting the offensive glass and getting to the line. Those are two areas where the Cyclone defense is suspect as they allow opponents to rebound a Hawkeye-esque 31.4% of their misses. 25.8% of opponent points come from the line, which is 11th most in the country.

Ideally, rumors of Kris Murray’s demise are greatly exaggerated and he shakes off some tough games away from home to continue his torrid stretch at Carver: 24.3 PPG, 52% from deep, 67% overall, 10.3 RPG, etc. etc. That’s a stat-line to build a successful offense around one, if I’ve ever seen it.

Of course, ISU is the toughest defense he’ll have faced at home so Iowa will need Tony Perkins & Patrick McCaffery to step up irrespective of Murray’s health. Both figure to have size advantages and, when they play within themselves, are two of Iowa’s best at creating points with the ball in their hands. Each have drawn over 5 fouls/40 minutes and are generally good free throw shooters, with Patrick at 81% on the season.

So if the shots aren’t falling, I’d love to see Iowa attack the basket to get shots around the rim and free throw opportunities.

(But also this would be a great game for Payton Sandfort to go off)

Can Iowa play whack-a-mole with Iowa State’s scoring? In the Cyclones’ eight games, they’ve had five different guys lead the team in scoring with Jaren Homes (14.5 PPG) notching three. Much like last year, they are very capable of finding the hot hand and riding it. Caleb Grill’s 31 points on 7/11 from deep against UNC & Gabe Kalscheur coming off the bench for 23 points versus Villanova speak to that. Anybody can step up.

While they’re inefficient putting the ball through the hoop, they make up for it by hitting the offensive boards: Osun Osunniyi & Robert Jones are nationally ranked with offensive rebounding rates of 13.1% & 10.6% respectively. It contributes to a top 40 rate collectively.

That activity results in opponent fouls, too. So Iowa will have to be sure in their rebounding and get help from guards to finish opponent possessions before committing to transition offense.

Do we see a surprise? Perhaps the brightest spot from Iowa’s whelming performance in Madison Square Garden was Dasonte Bowen coming off the bench to score 12 points on 5/7 shooting, all around the rim. Considering the length of Duke, that statline feels like a potential harbinger, even if it was while Iowa was operating with a double-digit deficit.

I was also pleasantly surprised with Josh Ogundele against Duke. He looked as well-conditioned as he has all season and flashed some nifty footwork on his only basket of the game. If everything connects for him (huge if), he can be a dude. Even if Murray is fine to go tonight, the Hawks will need Ogundele this season and ramping up his minutes this week may allow him to set the stage for a more consistent role in Big Ten play.

How to Watch

Date: Thursday, December 8th
Time: 7:01 pm CT
Opponent: Iowa State Cyclones (7-1, 0-0); Big 12 Conference; Ames, IA
Location: Carver-Hawkeye Arena; Iowa City, IA
Betting line by DraftKings: Iowa State +4 | +155 at Iowa -180 | O/U 138
Radio: Hawkeye Sports Network (Gary Dolphin & Bob Hansen)
TV: FS1 (Kevin Kugler and Nick Bahe)
Streaming: Fox Sports

Visit Sling TV for prices, streaming options and available channels to make sure you don’t miss a minute of Iowa basketball this season.

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