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Know Your Rival to the North: Iowa State

Woohoo, a 6:30 tip-off!! And a golden opportunity to move to six conference wins.

Don't forget to post your Trifecta picks!

Iowa State: 13-10 (2-6)

Points Per Minute
1.84 1.73
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.08 1.01
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.28 1.11
2-PT FG% 49.0% 44.3%
3-PT FG% 40.0% 35.1%
FT% 63.9% 70.5%
True Shooting % 55.2% 50.1%
Assists/Gm 15.3 12.0
Steals/Gm 5.0 7.3
Turnovers/Gm 14.1 12.5
Ball Control Index
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.44 1.55
Expected Offensive Rebounds/Gm 12.3 13.8
Offensive Rebounds/Gm 12.0 12.5
Difference -0.3 -1.3

Ken Pomeroy Stats

ISU Offense vs MU Defense Ranks
ISU Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 92 10 MU
Effective FG% 51 34 Push
Turnover % 141 1 MU Big
Off. Reb. % 164 321 ISU Big
FTA/FGA 179 227 ISU
MU Offense vs ISU Defense Ranks
MU Offense ISU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 40 91 MU
Effective FG% 62 91 MU
Turnover % 45 316 MU Big
Off. Reb. % 129 117 Push
FTA/FGA 234 6 ISU Big

Iowa State is a pretty interesting team. They don't really have any bad losses, they have a lot of size, and they are experienced ... but away from Hilton, they are pretty poor, they don't rebound well for their size, and they play the most passive defense Mizzou will see this year.  They appear to have more going for them than they apparently do, and here's to hoping they don't handle Mizzou's system any better than they did last year, when they lost by 14 in Ames and 31 in Columbia.

Where the Clones are strongest

  1. They make 3-pointers. ISU is 15th in the country in 3PT% offense. Now, they don't take a ton of 3's (they're 236th in 3-point Attempts Per Field Goal Attempt), and only three players have attempted more than 30 long-balls -- Marquis Gilstrap is 30-for-76 (39.5%), Scott Christopherson is 29-for-62 (46.8%), Craig Brackins is 19-for-53 (35.8%) -- but when they take them, they are probably wide open, and it is probably going in.  Passing is EXTREMELY important to ISU.  When the ball is moving well, the assists add up, and ISU can actually play strong offense.  But when they are turning the ball over, as they are likely to do against Mizzou, they become pretty poor pretty quickly.

  2. They're tall. They rank in KenPom's Top 20 for Average Height, four of their top five contributors are at least 6'7, 215, and three are at least 6'9, 230.  Their bigs appear to take a lot of longer shots, and none really seem capable of playing the wing, so there are only two on the court at any given time; this means that they aren't quite as big as they appear overall, but they still present a tough matchup for Mizzou.

Where they are weakest

  1. They are passive on defense. They are almost dead last (330th) in steals percentage, they almost never foul (their best big man averages 34+ minutes per game, which is tough to do), they take almost no chances ... and yet they still give up an extremely high 3-point% (228th in the country) and don't rank in the top 100 in rebounding despite their size?  Huh?

    ISU's defense has its strengths -- they are 46th in blocks% and 26th in Assists Per Field Goals Made, meaning they give up a lot of baskets that aren't assisted (so ... they get beaten off the dribble a lot, I guess?).  But I'm still baffled by how you can play relatively unaggressively and still get out of position enough to give up a lot of open 3's.  I am thinking that ISU's guards are just really bad.  They've obviously got some interesting bigs, but signs point to their backcourt being by far the worst in the Big 12. Diante Garrett can pass, and Scott Christopherson can shoot, but neither can play defense at a Big 12 level, it seems.  At least nobody but Garrett.

  2. They don't rebound well considering how tall they are. First things first: Marquis Gilstrap CAN rebound.  He averages 0.30 rebounds per minute, most of which comes on the defensive end.  That's good.  Meanwhile, Brackins is solid on the defensive end as well.  But their two best offensive rebounders (backups LaRon Dendy and Justin Hamilton) are quite poor on the defensive end (0.13 def. rebs per minute, just a hair better than Marcus Denmon), so it appears they have a choice to make.  Either have Gilstrap and Brackins in for scoring and defensive rebounds, but allow for the fact that both of them (Brackins in particular) seem to wander the perimeter a lot, or stick in the backups for second chance points and relinquish any defensive rebounding advantage you have.

    The backups do also block shots better than Brackins/Gilstrap -- Dendy averages a damn impressive 0.09 blocks per minute (Laurence Bowers: 0.08) and Jamie Vanderbeken averages 0.07, but Brackins (0.04) and Gilstrap (0.03) are almost non-factors in this regard.  So the backups are the hustle guys, Brackins/Gilstrap are the steady guys.  Either way, they rank outside the top 100 in both offensive and defensive rebounding, which is inexcusable with their size.

ISU's Season to Date

  • Wins vs KenPom's Top 200
    at #85 Nebraska (56-53)
    #89 Colorado (64-63)
    #91 Houston (82-75, 2OT)
    vs #113 St. Louis (65-54)
    #144 Bradley (87-68)
    #159 Iowa (81-71)
    at #173 Drake (90-70)
  • Losses
    #1 Kansas (61-84)
    vs #2 Duke (65-86)
    #9 Kansas State (75-79)
    #12 Texas (83-90)
    at #16 Baylor (63-84)
    at #17 California (63-82)
    #48 Northern Iowa (60-63)
    vs #62 Northwestern (65-67)
    at #82 Texas Tech (71-78)
    at #90 Oklahoma (84-89)

You've got to say this for ISU: they don't have any bad losses.  They don't have any good wins either, but they have been startlingly consistent.  They are 0-8 versus Ken Pomeroy's Top 80, 3-2 versus #80-90, and 10-0 versus everybody below #90.  (It should surprise nobody, then, to learn that they rank #87.)  They played K-State and Texas well at home, losing by single digits both times, but they have played three KenPom Top 20 teams (Mizzou is #13) away from Hilton Coliseum and have lost by 21, 21, and 19.  Being that Mizzou's style tends to inflate blowouts a bit, I don't think it would surprise anybody if Mizzou won by 25+ tomorrow night.  That said, they could struggle at Hilton.  Hilton's always a tough place to play -- Mizzou has won two of three there, but lost seven in a row before that -- and ISU is certainly a solid team there.

ISU Player Stats

Player AdjGS*/Gm GmSc/Min Line
Craig Brackins (6'10, 230, Jr.) 16.8 0.49 34.5 MPG, 17.0 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.3 BPG, 2.1 TOPG
Marquis Gilstrap (6'7, 215, Sr.) 14.0 0.46 30.3 MPG, 14.7 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.2 APG, 2.7 TOPG
Diante Garrett (6'4, 190, Jr.) 9.1 0.30 30.1 MPG, 8.5 PPG, 5.3 APG, 2.5 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 2.6 TOPG
LaRon Dendy (6'9, 230, Jr.) 8.1 0.52 15.4 MPG, 7.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.4 BPG
Justin Hamilton (6'11, 260, So.) 7.7 0.39 19.6 MPG, 5.8 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.1 BPG
Scott Christopherson (6'3, 200, So.) 5.3 0.23 23.6 MPG, 7.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.3 TOPG
Jamie Vanderbeken (6'11, 250, Sr.) 4.9 0.37 13.2 MPG, 4.1 PPG, 2.8 RPG
Charles Boozer (6'3, 205, Jr.) 3.4 0.35 9.7 MPG, 3.5 PPG, 1.5 RPG
Chris Colvin (6'3, 195, Fr.) 1.4 0.09 14.4 MPG, 3.3 PPG, 2.4 APG, 1.3 RPG, 2.2 TOPG
Dominique Buckley (6'2, 200, So.) 1.3 0.19 7.0 MPG, 1.7 PPG, 1.1 APG
Alex Door (6'7, 210, Fr.) 0.9 0.35 2.5 MPG, 0.7 PPG

* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds.  It redistributes a team's points based not only on points scored, but also by giving credit for assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls.  It is a stat intended to determine who had the biggest overall impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

  • There's one thing in particular that jumps out at me about these stats: they have two non-impact freshmen, two solid sophomores (and a non-impact soph) ... and everybody else is an underclassman.  Brackins will almost certainly go pro after this year (says me, anyway), and ISU's size will be further depleted by the departure of Gilstrap and Vanderbeken.
  • So their size advantage goes away, and they don't really do much to improve their guard play (they have one 3-star guard commit in the current class).  Now, Colvin was a 4-star signee a year ago, so he could blossom into something decent (he's getting decent minutes this year ... he's just not doing anything with them), but ... how do I put this delicately ... Greg McDermott has had an issue with players transferring (hello, Wesley Johnson) or leaving early (Mike Taylor), and Colvin has already been suspended once this season for violations of team rules.  I'm not saying he's going to transfer after this season or anything, but I'm just going to say that the suspension and lack of production are both red flags, and while I'm not predicting it, it wouldn't completely surprise me if Colvin's not on the team next year.  If he does return, he's going to need to blossom quickly ... because they need the help.
  • I like Dendy.  He appears to be a very good energy booster off the bench.  His per-minute numbers are strong across the board, especially in terms of fouls drawn, offensive rebounds, and blocks.  If ISU hangs around in this game, it will be because they utilized their size advantage, especially on the offensive glass, and Dendy appears to be their best hope for doing that.

Keys to the Game

  1. BLOCK OUT. Yes, ISU has some solid offensive rebounders coming off the bench, but with Brackins spending a lot of time on the perimeter, there is no excuse for Mizzou to allow ISU to grab more than the expected number of offensive rebounds.  ISU is likely going to turn the ball over quite a bit -- they rank okay in terms of turnovers, but not great, and they don't have hardly any guard depth to speak of -- so if they're being limited to a lot of one-and-done possessions when they do get a shot off, there's pretty much no way they can win the game.  Mizzou's defensive rebounding numbers are just egregious, but if they can hold their own tomorrow night, they win.

  2. Make your jumpers. ISU rarely fouls, and Mizzou rarely draws fouls, so unless they find some aggression lying around somewhere, Mizzou will need to make their jumpers to win the game, as they're not going to be taking many trips to the line.  ISU's FG% defense is decent, but if Mizzou shoots like they did against Colorado, Oklahoma State, and ATM (during the 27 minutes of the game that weren't part of the Worst 13 Minutes Ever), they win.  Or, you know, they could attack the rim and see what happens.

  3. Punish their guards. As I said, Diante Garrett is a good passer (5+ APG), Scott "Don't Call Me Kris" Christopherson is a good 3PT shooter (46.8%) ... and that's pretty much what they have going for them.  Colvin might have potential but hasn't shown much of it to date ... and those are the only guards averaging more than 10 minutes per game.  ISU doesn't play tremendously slow this season, but you have to figure they're going to try against the waves of guards Mizzou sends at them, and if Mizzou doesn't significantly win the backcourt battle in every category, they blew a golden opportunity and potentially allowed ISU to stay in the game with their frontcourt.


Mizzou is four wins away from the vaunted nine conference wins that would give them a 99% chance of making the NCAA Tournament.  This and the Colorado home game represent the two most likely wins remaining on the schedule.  It's not the end of the world if Mizzou blows this one, but ... it would be pretty bad.  Really bad.

If ISU wins ... Christopherson made quite a few 3-pointers, Mizzou's bigs got in foul trouble, Brackins scored 20+, Mizzou shot under 30% from 3-point range, and the sometimes fickle Mizzou fans tensed up and turned Mizzou Arena into a ball of anxiety.  If all of those things happen (which certainly isn't impossible), ISU will have a very good chance of pulling the upset.  If ISU wins, I'm thinking of something in the area of 68-66.

If Mizzou wins ... If only some of the "If ISU wins" factors happen, then we're looking at something like a 78-66 win for Mizzou.  If Mizzou shoots well, rebounds decently and destroys ISU's backcourt, then we're looking at a blowout, something like 84-58.

I think Mizzou faces a very tough game Saturday in Waco, but I don't think they'll be looking ahead to it or anything.  They'll be searching for Mizzou Arena redemption after last week's collapse against ATM, and they'll get it.  We'll go with Door #3, an 84-58 Mizzou win.