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The Opening Tip: Hawkeyes Shooting to End Skid in Ames

December 11, 2019

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

IOWA CITY, Iowa – The last time Iowa won at Hilton Coliseum, Jeff Horner and Greg Brunner were freshmen. Adam Haluska played for Iowa State. Star Hawkeye big man Luka Garza was 5.

Iowa will be looking to end an eight-game losing streak in Ames Thursday night. That 54-53 win there during the 2003 postseason NIT seems like ages ago because it was.

TIME, TV: 7 p.m. CT on ESPN2 with Jason Benetti and Dan Dakich on the call.

RECORDS, RANKINGS: Iowa comes in at 7-3, while Iowa State stands at 6-3. Both teams are unranked.

THE COMPUTERS: Sagarin rates Iowa at 31 and Iowa State at 33 as of Wednesday morning. Ken Pom has the Hawkeyes at 30 and the Cyclones at 33.

POINT SPREAD: Iowa State is listed as a four-point favorite by William Hill and Westgate.

HISTORY LESSON: Iowa holds a 45-27 advantage in the series. Iowa State has won the four of the last six meetings. The Hawkeyes won last year’s contest, 98-84, in Iowa City.

The home team has won 14 of the last 16 in the series, dating back to 2004, with the Cyclones winning in Iowa City in 2010 and 2015.

The Cyclones own a slim, 19-17, advantage in games played at Ames. Iowa State has won the last eight meetings in Hilton Coliseum. The Hawkeyes’ last victory in Ames came on March 21, 2003 (54-53) in the postseason NIT. Iowa’s last regular season victory in Hilton was Dec. 8, 2001 (78-53).

NEXT: After a break for final exams, Iowa returns to the court against Cincinnati Dec. 21 at Chicago’s United Center.

SCOUTING THE CYCLONES: Iowa State’s losses have come against Michigan (No. 12 Ken Pom) and Seton Hall (17) at the Battle for Atlantis, and on the road to Oregon State (62). It’s defeated Seton Hall, Mississippi Valley State (353), Northern Illinois (155), Southern Mississippi (260) and Kansas City (256) at Hilton, and Alabama (82) at Atlantis.

Sunday’s victory in the rematch against Seton Hall represented the Cyclones’ finest hour of the season, by far. The then-No. 13 Pirates captured an 84-76 win in the Bahamas, but ISU’s defense was much better in this 76-66 triumph. Preseason AP All-American Myles Powell managed only 19 points on 7 of 20 shooting from the floor before fouling out.

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It should be noted that Seton Hall played without productive big man Sandro Mamukelashvili for most of Sunday’s matchup after he broke his wrist. He scored 18 points on 7 of 10 field-goal shooting in the first meeting.

The Cyclones are fueled by do-it-all guard Tyrese Haliburton (16.2 PPG, 8.2 APG, 6.0 RPG, 2.7 SPG). He ranks fourth nationally in assists and 16th in steals per game.

Sophomore Rasir Bolton, who Iowa faced last season when he was at Penn State, contributes 15.3 points, while George Conditt (10.6) and Prentiss Nixon (10.2) also average double figures. Former Nebraska big man Michael Jacobson pulls down a team-best 7.6 rebounds per contest and scores 9.1. Starting center Solomon Young averages 9.7 and 4.0.

It will be interesting to see how ISU defends Hawkeye center Luka Garza, the reigning Oscar Robertson national player of the week. His 22.5 points per game tops the Big Ten and ranks ninth nationally. He pulls down 9.8 boards and has five double-doubles this season, which is tied for 11th in the country.

With Conditt, Jacobson and Young, the Cyclones can throw different looks at Garza. The athletic Conditt’s 3.2 blocks per game ranks 11th nationally despite him averaging only 17.7 minutes per outing coming off the bench. Jacobson is a tough guy, and Young combines traits of his two teammates.

Unlike ISU teams the Hawkeyes have faced in recent years, this squad struggles shooting from the outside. It’s 30.0 percentage (66 for 220) from behind the arc ranks 281st among 353 D-I programs.

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The Cyclones do take care of the basketball. They rank 18th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio, ninth in turnover margin and 21st in turnovers per game. They’ve had fewer turnovers than their opponents in all nine games this season.

Interestingly, Iowa ranks second in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.61), is tied for fifth in assists (17.9) and tied for 17th in fewest turnovers per game (11.1).

ISU rates 27th nationally in Ken Pom’s adjusted offense and 56th in adjusted defense. The Hawkeyes are ranked fourth and 115th.

KEYS FOR HAWKEYES: Iowa would benefit greatly from continuing its success in handing out assists and limiting turnovers. That’s normally a key to winning on the road.

But let’s not bury the lede here. If the Hawkeyes play defense like they did in giving up 103 points during last week’s loss at Michigan, they will fall again. And ISU is sound at scoring off pick-and-roll players, which have been Iowa’s kryptonite.

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And these two points go hand in hand. The fewer times you turn over the ball, the fewer times you play defense. That’s a good formula for the Hawkeyes.


-ISU has won its last 12 non-conference home games.

-Rasir Bolton leads Iowa State with 51 free-throw attempts while shooting 82.4 percent at the line. He’s been to the line 21 times the last two games.

-Iowa State leads all Big 12 teams averaging 82.0 points per game.

-ISU is first in the Big 12 in blocks per game (5.7).

-The home team has won 14 of the last 16 in the Iowa-ISU series, dating back to 2004.

-Thursday will be Iowa’s fifth game away from Iowa City in six games. In fact, Iowa will only play one more home game (Dec. 29) between now and Jan. 10, 2020.

-Iowa’s three defeats have come to teams with a combined 27-2 record (DePaul, San Diego State, Michigan).

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