The men’s basketball team returns home after being on the road for nearly two weeks to face off against the Iowa State Cyclones. Sitting at 8-8 on the season, the Cyclones have had an up and down sort of experience in their non-conference. There’s big victories on their resume like the 104-89 victory over Alabama (who just took down no. 4 Auburn) and 76-66 over now no. 18 Seton Hall which prove the Cyclone’s ability to win with command. But there’s also discouraging losses on their records like a 70-68 loss to FAMU, and an 84-68 loss to Iowa. So much like Texas Tech, Iowa State is a team that is continually negotiating its identity as the season continues. That all starts up front with their sophomore, Tyrese Haliburton.
Haliburton is dude numero uno in Ames, Iowa. The 6’5 guard dominates the Cyclone’s major statistical categories with a 15.9ppg, 6.1 rebounds per game, 7.8 assists per game, and 2.7 steals per game. His average of 36 minutes on the court is the highest of any player, alluding not only to his athletic abilities but also the necessity he plays in the Cyclone’s offense and defensive strategy. Haliburton has excellent shot selection within the paint, hitting nearly 50% of his shots, but he also is currently averaging 40% from beyond the arc... and I mean way beyond.
Just an incredible sequence from Tyrese Haliburton pic.twitter.com/6R3nDDC2GO— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) January 15, 2020
Take note how Haliburton intuitively moves from his wide position on defense to come to Tre Jackson’s aid, get the steal, and then have the awareness to get the ball to a position where his skill could get a basket. He’s the full package for the Cyclones and the strategy to disassembling their team starts with number twenty-two. Simple enough, right? Beyond Haliburton Iowa State still has shooters like Rasir Bolton (14.8 ppg) and rebounders like Michael Jacobson and George Conditt (5.9, 5.6 rpg).
What Iowa State hasn’t proven consistently, however, is that they can create scoring chances/defensive chaos without using Haliburton. The next highest assists per game is from Bolton who has 2.9, and the next highest amount of steals comes from Prentiss Nixon with 1.3. Certainly if the Red Raiders are able to lock down Haliburton’s production there’s nothing saying that another player for the Cyclones wont have a breakout night, but it’s going to be such a dramatic shift from what we’ve seen out of Iowa State so far this year.
The favor, as of now, appears all Red Raiders. Texas Tech is sporting a strong 8-1 home court advantage with that lone loss being 5 points to the no. 4 Bears. Iowa State, on the other hand, has yet to find a way to win on the road with a 0-3 record against Oregon State, TCU, and Baylor. In their contest against Kansas State we were privileged to see Kyler Edwards step back into his tournament form by putting up career numbers and dominating as the primary ball handler. Additionally there is a strong probability that Terrence Shannon works his way back into the rotation after missing the past two contests due to back strain.
School is back in session. Students will flood the stands. The USA will be rocking once again as Chris Beard and company take on Steve Prohm’s Cyclones and look to advance to 3-2 in conference play. Grab some tickets before they’re all gone!