Preview: Another Game, Another Battle

Preview: Another Game, Another Battle

Iowa State is in the midst of what's considered a "break" in the Big 12 schedule, but Monday night at West Virginia won't be any sort of walk in the park

While this is the portion of the schedule which allows Iowa State to breathe easiest — from Feb. 8 to Feb. 26, the Cyclones play one ranked team, Texas at home — nobody expects tonight's contest at West Virginia to be any romp.

No. 11 Iowa State (18-4, 6-4 Big 12) has won three in a row, a nice correction after a three-game losing streak Jan. 11-18, and after tonight will return home for a two-game homestand.

In conference play, the Mountaineers (14-10, 6-5) have been very poor defensively, but overall they've played well lately, winning four of their last six games, including three straight home wins over Oklahoma, Kansas State and Texas Tech.

And in a point guard like Juwan Staten, who's second in the league in points per game behind Melvin Ejim, the Mountainers have the perfect catalyst for what Fred Hoiberg calls a "random" offense.

"I see an extremely confident team, playing with a lot of freedom," Hoiberg said of WVU on the Big 12 teleconference Monday. "They're very difficult to guard, run a lot of ball screens.

"Staten's shooting the heck out of the ball. Then you're surrounding him with shooters. When you have a point guard that gets into the paint like Staten, it opens it up."

Since their Big 12 slate began Jan. 4, the Mountaineers are shooting 35.4 percent from distance and are drawing 29.3 percent of their points from three-pointers. Both marks are fourth in the conference.

Had West Virginia converted better than 6 of 23 three-pointers Saturday at Kansas, it would have stuck around longer. In five games prior to the 83-69 loss to the Jayhawks, West Virginia shot a combined 44-for-109 from the perimeter (40 percent).

Eron Harris is WVU's marksman to watch. The former Scout.com three-star takes a Buddy Hield-like volume of three-point shots and makes them at a nice clip (42.1).

Below are screen-caps from Harris' games against Kansas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State — he shot 15-for-29 — which we've pulled to illustrate that while he's getting looks from everywhere, they're mostly coming on the wings, suggesting Harris is pulling the trigger while rolling off screens. Note the lack of corner shots. Data is pulled from the CBSSports.com game tracker. Green dots indicates makes.

KU:

OU:

OSU:

Iowa State has seen opponents shoot 37.2 percent against it from three-point range in conference play. This mostly has more to do with opponents than the Cyclones, but perhaps it does suggest defensive rotations have been a bit slow.

DeAndre Kane Returns

Actually, Kane has never faced West Virginia in a true road environment. Marshall and the Mountaineers hold a neural-site joist each season, meaning Kane will for the first time settle into the comfy confines of the WVU Coliseum, which seats 14,000.

In three career games against WVU, Kane's team is 1-2, but Kane's personal numbers aren't bad: 16.7 points per contest on 45.5 percent shooting, with 10 assists to 12 turnovers suggesting he had to do too much for under-matched Marshall.

The WVU student section will take shots at Kane tonight and while he'll likely play more pissed-off than usual, he'll need to stay composed. He can't make it personal and play Hero Ball, but Kane could also stand to be more aggressive than he was against TCU (0-for-4).

Shooting-wise, Kane in his last four games has been cold-hot-cold-hot.

  • Jan. 29, KU: 22 points, 8-for-14, 2-for-4 from three.

  • Feb. 1, OU: 5 points, 2-for-8.

  • Feb. 3, OSU: 26 points, 10-for-23, 3-for-8.

  • Feb. 8, TCU: 4 points, 0-for-4, 0-for-1.

    If he stays the course, the Cyclones will be in good hands Monday.

    If not, maybe Melvin Ejim is game for another 48-18 performance.

    Projected Starting Lineups (ht, yr, ppg, rpg, FG %)

    Iowa State

  • PG: DeAndre Kane (6-4, sr., 16, 6.5, 6.1*, 47.5).

  • G: Monté Morris (6-2, fr., 6.6, 3*, 46).

  • F: Dustin Hogue (6-6, jr., 10.9, 8.7, 52.9).

  • F: Melvin Ejim (6-6, sr., 19.8, 8.6, 53.2).

  • F: Georges Niang (6-7, so., 16.2, 4.2, 53.2).

    West Virginia

  • PG: Juwan Staten (6-1, jr., 18.3, 5.9, 5.9*, 51.7).

  • G: Eron Harris (6-3, so., 17.5, 3.8, 44.7, 42.1^)

  • G: Terry Henderson (6-4, so., 12, 2.8, 43.5).

  • F: Remi Dibo (6-7, jr., 7.3, 3.2, 40.3).

  • F: Devin Williams (6-9, fr., 8.6, 7.3, 40.3).

    *denotes assists per game; ^denotes three-point percentage.

    Team Notes

    ISU

  • ISU won at WVU last season in the regular season finale, 83-74.

  • Iowa State leads the nation with 18.7 assists per game and is fourth with 85 points per.

  • ISU is one of two schools nationally with three players averaging at least 16 points per game.

  • Melvin Ejim leads the Big 12 in scoring at 19.6 points per game, up eight points from his average last season.

  • In his last three games, Ejim is averaging 30.7 points and 15.7 rebounds.

  • Ejim is the only player in a "power" conference averaging at least 18 points, eight rebounds, 50 percent from the field and 35 percent from three-point territory.

  • Since Jan. 18 Georges Niang is 16 of 31 from distance.

  • Monté Morris leads the Big 12 with a 4.8 assist-to-turnover ratio. Morris has started the last three games (ISU is 3-0).

  • Iowa State is hitting 56.2 percent of its two-point field goals, No. 4 nationally.

  • Fred Hoiberg (80) needs one win to tie Tim Floyd for second-most in school history in an ISU coach's first four years at the helm. Not far in front is Larry Eustachy, with 84.

    WVU

  • Freshman Devin Williams has a defensive rebounding rate of 23.4, No. 61 nationally.

  • Juwan Staten draws 6.3 fouls per 40 minutes and shoots 73 percent from the charity stripe.

  • Staten won't sit much: The junior plays 37.5 minutes per game.

  • Bob Huggins is 38-21 in home games against conference opponents at WVU.

  • WVU's average margin of victory at home under Huggins is plus-15.1.

  • The Mountaineers are ninth in fewest turnovers per game and 29th in assist-to-turnover ratio.

  • Staten has had one or fewer turnovers in 17 of his last 31 games, dating back to 2012-13.

  • Staten has scored 14 points or more in 16 consecutive games.

  • Staten was 18-for-21 at the free throw line Feb. 1 against Kansas State.

  • Terry Henderson, WVU's sleeper, has posted double-figure point totals in nine of the last 12 outings.

  • Williams has five double-doubles, fifth-most all-time by a WVU freshman.

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