Part of the Big Monday schedule includes a Big 12 showdown between the Oklahoma Sooners and no. 20 Iowa State Cyclones. The Cyclones are listed as 3-point favorites on the road.
The Sooners continue to fall upon hard times during conference play. A week ago, they suffered a 30-point home loss at the hands of Baylor. They followed that up with a road defeat against West Virginia over the weekend. Oklahoma has now lost four of their last six overall and have fallen to 3-6 in Big 12 play, putting their tournament hopes in jeopardy if they can’t get things turned around quickly.
Meanwhile, Iowa State is in the middle of a crowded Big 12 title race that has five teams within 1.5 games of one another. After a sluggish start to conference play, the Cyclones have won three in a row and five of their last six. Thus far, ISU has surpassed preseason expectations and look good for a spot in the NCAA Tournament if they can keep up the momentum they’ve built recently.
Can’t Stop the Scoring
The Cyclones are the best offensive team in the Big 12, leading the conference in both scoring at 79 points per game and field goal percentage, shooting over 48%. Also, while their top scorers aren’t exactly deadly outside shooters, Iowa State is still second in the Big 12 from three-point range at just over 36%. They’ve made it to at least 70 points in six of their nine conference games and have shown the ability to score in bunches, changing the course of a game in just a couple of minutes.
The key for Iowa State offensively is a deep rotation that includes four players who average at least 12 points per game. Marial Shayok, a transfer from Virginia, has exploded onto the scene in his first season at Iowa State. He’s scoring over 19 points a game after never averaging double figures during his three seasons at Virginia. Of course, the likes of Lindell Wigginton, Michael Jacobson, and Talen Horton-Tucker are all capable of going off for a big point total on any given night. As long as the Cyclones can contributions from at least a couple of those guys, they’re usually in good shape.
The Sooners, on the other hand, are lacking in the scoring department. Outside of senior Christian James, who’s pouring in 16 points per game, they don’t have enough offensive weapons. Oklahoma lacks a true point guard who can distribute the ball, a knock-down outside shooter, and a consistent post presence.
With few offensive players striking fear into opposing teams, Big 12 teams have started to lock in on James. He’s scored 10 points or less in three of Oklahoma’s last four games. If James isn’t carrying the offense and the Sooners aren’t able to put forth a strong enough effort on the defensive end, they end up having a rather narrow path to victory.
Even at home, the Sooners will have to play close to perfect if they expect to keep pace with Iowa State’s offense. Oklahoma simply doesn’t have enough scorers to match the Cyclones. Bet on Iowa State to win and cover the 3-point spread on the road.