|No. 25 Baylor (11-3, 1-1) at No. 13/14 Iowa State (12-2, 1-1)|
Jan. 9, 2016 | 2:00 p.m. CT
Ames, Iowa | Hilton Coliseum (14,356)
TV: ESPN2 and WatchESPN
Radio: ESPN Central Texas
Last season, Baylor won its first program victory in Hilton Coliseum by draining 5 consecutive threes in the final 8 minutes.
This season, three point shooting has been harder to come by for the Bears. Only 23.9% of Baylor's points have come from the three-point shot, which ranks 283rd nationally, per KenPom. Iowa State's defense, on the other hand, ranks 24th nationally in opponent point percentage from threes.
Georges Niang and Monte Morris are the big names for the Cyclones, who manage to score nearly 58% of their points in the two-point range while also ranking near the bottom in free throw attempts per shot. Converting an average of 57.8% of their two-point attempts while also drawing an incredibly low rate of fouls indicates a team that can create clean paths to the rim through smart passing and off-ball cutting, as well as by pushing the ball every chance they get. Iowa State ranks 26th nationally in possessions per game. Their average of 74 greatly outpaces Baylor's 68.3 possessions per game.
For Baylor to win this game, the Bears will have to make this an ugly one. The pace will need to be slow, and Baylor's defense will need to be fast and active, whether in man or zone. Niang is a certified zone-buster who will dominate the game if he gets enough touches at the free throw line. If Baylor can limit Niang's touches and can prevent Morris from penetrating, they will give their offense a chance.
On the other end, Rico Gathers, Taurean Prince, and Ish Wainright will need to dominate the offensive glass. Jameel McKay is a dominant shot blocking presence for the Cyclones. Even if he doesn't block the shot, his presence under the rim will influence more misses than usual. It will be imperative for the Bears to give themselves extra opportunities to score.
Iowa State is also the best team in the country at avoiding fouling the other team. If Baylor's front line can force the issue inside and get Niang, McKay, and Abdel Nad er in foul trouble, Iowa State could be in a position where their lack of reliable depth could really hurt them. The Cyclones play their bench for a lower percentage of minutes than almost every team in the country.
I see a 5-10 point loss in Baylor's future, but if Al Freeman and Prince can get their jumpers going while Johnathan Motley and Gathers frustrate Iowa State's bigs inside, the Bears have a chance to come out of Ames with a victory two years in a row.