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Know Your Hilton Magic Rival: Iowa State Cyclones

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It is possible that we might learn a lot about both the 2011-12 Missouri Tigers and the 2012-13 version. First, Mizzou looks to not only respond well following their first loss, but also avoid both a losing conference record and a growing din from the "WEAK SCHEDULE" and "ROAD WOES" chorus. But they will also take on a team that is both talented and awash with transfers and other newcomers, like Frank Haith's team will be next year. The Cyclones started slow (like Mizzou probably will next year), but they have begun to click to some degree. They need to beat Missouri to continue momentum toward a possible NCAA Tournament bid; Missouri needs to win to fend off the haters. Plenty at stake tonight.

Iowa State Cyclones (12-3)

Pace (No. of Possessions)
Points Per Minute
Points Per Possession (PPP)
Points Per Shot (PPS)
2-PT FG% 51.8%
3-PT FG% 38.2%
FT% 68.4%
True Shooting % 58.1%

ISU Opp.
Assists/Gm 14.8
Steals/Gm 5.7
Turnovers/Gm 12.9
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO

ISU Opp.
Expected Off. Rebounds/Gm 11.6
Offensive Rebounds/Gm 11.1
Difference -0.5

As we will see with the Pomeroy stats below, Iowa State still has some issues on the defensive end, but they are a very dangerous offensive team. If they hit some early 3's, the Hilton Coliseum crowd will be deafening. Mizzou very much needs to match fury with fury early on, or they could be staring at another pretty impressive first-half deficit. (Granted, they could still win even if they do face that deficit, but let's try not going to that well too many times already.)

Ken Pomeroy Stats

ISU Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

ISU Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 39
Effective FG% 22
Turnover % 63
Off. Reb. % 125
MU Offense vs ISU Defense Ranks

MU Offense ISU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 2
MU Big
Effective FG% 2
MU Big
Turnover % 2
MU Big
Off. Reb. % 169

Where the Cyclones are weakest

Their defense is pretty much "don't foul, don't take chances, hope you miss the shot you take, and grab the defensive rebound." They foul as rarely as Mizzou does (which could result in a quick game tonight), and they are 30th in the country in defensive rebounds, but they also allow you a pretty good look, and they are 266th in Def. Steal% and 220th in Def. Block%. They are also 265th in Bench Minutes; they get occasionally interesting contributions from bench players like Percy Gibson and Bubu Palo, but if they are going to beat you, it is probably going to be the starters doing the deed.

Where they are best

They are 43rd in Off. 3PT%, which is impressive considering they take as many 3's as they possibly can (16th in 3-Point Attempts Per Field Goal Attempt). They are also 51st on 2-pointers. They don't get many shots blocked (primarily because they are taking so many 3's), they don't allow you many transition opportunities through turnovers, and thanks mostly to Royce White (6.6 free throw attempts per game), they draw plenty of fouls.

Iowa State's Season to Date

  • Wins Versus Top 200 (Team Rank is from
    No. 25 Texas, 77-71
    No. 86 Lehigh, 86-77
    vs No. 114 Providence, 64-54
    No. 117 Iowa, 86-76
    at No. 126 Texas A&M, 74-50
    vs No. 155 Rice, 90-63
    No. 175 Lipscomb, 81-64
  • Losses
    at No. 26 Michigan, 66-76
    No. 47 Northern Iowa, 62-69
    at No. 168 Drake, 65-74

Until conference play began, Iowa State was really neither good nor bad. They beat up on bad teams and lost to good teams (and Drake). But they held off Texas thanks to Chris Babb's three-point shooting and White single-handedly getting every Texas player in foul trouble (he shot 17 free throws, and three Longhorns fouled out). And then they destroyed an A&M team that is just befuddling in how bad they are. Their Pomeroy ranking has improved from 125th on November 20, to 83rd on January 4, to 51st today. To say they are improving is probably a bit of an understatement.

Iowa State Player Stats

Player AdjGS*/Gm GmSc/Min Line
Royce White (6'8, 270, So.)
30.2 MPG, 12.9 PPG (54% 2PT, 57% FT), 9.3 RPG (2.8 OFF), 4.2 APG, 1.3 BPG, 1.1 SPG, 3.7 TOPG
Chris Babb (6'5, 225, Jr.)
31.5 MPG, 10.5 PPG (44% 2PT, 39% 3PT, 68% FT), 4.7 RPG (1.3 OFF), 1.8 APG, 1.3 SPG
Chris Allen (6'3, 205, Sr.)
28.7 MPG, 12.4 PPG (40% 2PT, 35% 3PT, 85% FT), 2.9 APG, 2.4 RPG, 2.1 TOPG
Tyrus McGee (6'2, 205, Jr.)
19.1 MPG, 8.9 PPG (55% 2PT, 44% 3PT, 84% FT), 3.2 RPG (1.2 OFF)
Scotty Christopherson (6'3, 195, Sr.)
29.3 MPG, 10.6 PPG (47% 2PT, 39% 3PT, 92% FT), 2.7 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.7 TOPG
Melvin Ejim (6'6, 220, So.)
22.2 MPG, 7.6 PPG (57% 2PT, 23% 3PT, 71% FT), 6.3 RPG (1.9 OFF), 1.0 APG, 1.1 TOPG
Percy Gibson (6'9, 245, Fr.)
11.7 MPG, 4.9 PPG (67% 2PT, 38% FT), 2.9 RPG
Bubu Palo (6'1, 175, So.)
15.6 MPG, 4.7 PPG (52% 2PT, 38% 3PT, 64% FT), 2.1 APG, 1.6 RPG, 1.4 TOPG
Anthony Booker (6'9, 250, Jr.)
11.4 MPG, 4.0 PPG (54% 2PT, 60% 3PT, 56% FT), 2.5 RPG (1.3 OFF)

* 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.

  • Highest Usage%: White (26%), Allen (24%), McGee (19%), Christopherson (19%)
  • Highest Floor%: Gibson (49%), McGee (42%), White (41%), Ejim (40%)
  • Highest %Pass: Palo (65%), White (58%), Allen (53%), Babb (50%)
  • Highest %Shoot: Gibson (64%), McGee (49%), Booker (47%), Babb (40%)
  • Highest %Fouled: Booker (19%), Gibson (18%), Palo (17%), McGee (15%)
  • Highest %T/O: Booker (12%), Gibson (10%), White (9%), Christopherson (8%)
  • Only Oklahoma State's Le'Bryan Nash and Texas Tech's Jordan Tolbert occupy more possessions in the Big 12 than Royce White. For better or worse, when he gets the ball, something is going to happen. Either he will draw a foul, make a bucket, or turn the ball over. And if somebody else takes and misses a shot, odds are decent that he will get the rebound. He recorded a triple double (10 points, 18 rebounds, 10 assists) against A&M on Saturday, and while he does sometimes occupy possessions for the wrong reasons, he matches up incredibly well with Mizzou. If he can get Ricardo Ratliffe and Steve Moore each in foul trouble, ISU might score on every second-half possession.
  • White is the star, but ISU has some interesting complementary pieces. Four players have hit at least 24 3-pointers this year (Babb, Allen, McGee, Christopherson), and five have grabbed at least 18 offensive rebounds (White, Babb, McGee, Ejim, Booker).
  • None of ISU's top four players above have played against Missouri. White is a Minnesota transfer, Babb is from Penn State, Allen is from Michigan State, and McGee is a JUCO transfer. Throw in a freshman (Gibson) and an SIU transfer (Booker), and only three players in the ISU rotation were in last year's ISU rotation. Like I said, they have a lot of resemblances to Mizzou's 2012-13 team.

Keys to the Game

  1. Foul Trouble. Neither ISU nor Mizzou have committed many fouls this season, and only one player really draws any fouls for ISU. But White could single-handedly take out a good portion of Mizzou's seven-man rotation. If Ricardo Ratliffe and Steve Moore get into foul trouble, then this game takes on a completely different tenor.

  2. From Way Downtown. Iowa State has four guys who can kill you from long range, and Missouri has three (Marcus Denmon, Kim English, Mike Dixon). Who gets hot?

  3. The Keys To Every Road Game. Mizzou has only played two road games this year, 2.5 if you include Illinois. And in these 2.5 games, Mizzou has two specific categories rise to uncomfortable levels: their opponent's offensive rebounds and Phil Pressey's turnovers. Mizzou has not been able to match what appears to be a higher level of effort from opponents outside of the state of Missouri, and when they begin to struggle, Pressey tries a little too hard to make up the ground. Watch these two numbers, and you can probably figure out who won.


Ken Pomeroy says Missouri 79, Iowa State 74; I am growing shakier by the moment with this one, but after one game of (correctly) going against Pomeroy's predictions, I'll go back to siding with him. Hilton is not an easy place to play, but if Mizzou truly has their minds on a really high NCAA tournament and/or a run at a conference title, they really need to figure out a way to win this one. Losing won't break the season, but it will almost certainly tamp the expectations down a couple of notches.