No. 8 Texas Tech Red Raiders (15-3, 4-2) once again are faced with a Saturday game coming off of a road loss. The most recent time they responded with a huge win at home against then No. 2 West Virginia. This time they will have to try again on the road.
The Red Raiders return to action Saturday as they travel to Ames, IA to take on the Iowa State Cyclones (10-7, 1-5). Iowa State is coming off a lackluster performance in Fort Worth last Wednesday. It was a 96-73 loss at the hands of the No. 24 TCU Horned Frogs. The loss left the Cyclones head coach Steve Prohm a little more than irritated.
Saturday is another day. Unfortunately, it’s also another game in a conference as brutal as any in the country. This figures to be a battle for sure as the stat board highlights. Let’s take a closer look at the Cyclones.
Iowa State Cyclones
Iowa State is led by third year head coach Steve Prohm. Prohm led the Cyclones to the NCAA tournament his first two seasons and they are 57-30 overall under his leadership.
On the floor, the overall leader is Nick Weiler-Babb. He is a 6’5 junior guard who leads the team in minutes (37), rebounds (126), and assists (129). He is also third on the team in points at 12 points per game. He’s solid from the field as well, shooting 45 percent from the field and 78 percent from the free throw line. He shoots 31 percent from three so he’s not a huge threat there.
Lindell Wigginton, a 6’2 freshman, and Donovan Jackson, a 6’2 senior, are the other two starting guards. Both of these guys average about 16 points and 32 minutes per game. Their scoring average ranks them one and two on the team.
They are both remarkably similar in their shooting percentages as well. Converting a little better than 40 percent of their field goal attempts which includes better than 42 percent from three. The big difference in the shooting is from the free throw line. Jackson is a 93 percent free throw shooter while Wigginton is only 69 percent.
Cameron Lard and Solomon Young should round out the starting five. Lard is a 6’9 freshman forward who leads the team with 32 blocks and is second with 106 rebounds. He averages 11 points and 22 minutes per game. The freshman is coming into his own, earning starts in the last two games.
Young is a 6’8 sophomore forward who averages seven points and 26 minutes per game. He is third on the team with 97 rebounds and second with 10 blocks. He’s a solid inside threat with a 47 percent field goal percentage.
Those five players will make up the starting lineup. Coach Prohm typically uses 10 players out of the 12 listed on the roster. Eight of those players average 17 minutes or more. Three of the starters, Wigginton, Jackson, and Weiler-Babb, average over 30 minutes per game.
The Cyclone roster tops out at 6’9. There will be a steady substitution of guys playing the four and five positions on the floor and they will all be guys who are 6’6 to 6’9.
Iowa State is 1-2 at home in the Big 12 with the average score 73-76 and the one win being a 10 point victory against Baylor. A struggling Baylor. They average 76 points per game in the Big 12 but allow 84. The points allowed is a huge number.
Texas Tech is 1-2 this year on the road with the average score of 69-71 with their lone road victory being a 12 point win over Kansas. Admittedly, a struggling Kansas. Tech averages 71 points per game in the Big 12 but only allows 66.
Big 12 road games have not been friendly to the Red Raiders under head coach Chris Beard. The Red Raiders are 1-11 overall and have lost their last two. The two road losses this year have come against an Oklahoma team with a ridiculous guard and solid inside talent, and a Texas team with massive size in the middle.
Iowa State has neither massive size or NBA lottery talent. I said it before the West Virginia game and I will say it again. I like the Red Raiders when they are competing on fundamentals and athleticism.
The only troubling thing about this game is the fact it is on the road. The Tech defense should be able to suffocate the Cyclones offense. The home team will tire from the constant defensive harassment and the energy will fade. The game should be close overall and Tech will pull away to close it out. Prediction: Tech 82, Iowa State 72