Iowa State Basketball: Texas A&M Preview

Tonight, the Cyclones face the third-best team in the Big 12 in Texas A&M down in College Station, Texas. Jamie Vanderbeken is out with an ankle injury that he sustained against the Jayhawks (do not be suprised if he is out for a couple of weeks at least), which means that Calvin Godfrey, coming off a 3 game suspension will start.

Some may say how come Godfrey is starting over Jordan Railey, and the answer is simple: he is a better player. Railey averages 10.3 fouls committed per 40 minutes. That means in 20 minutes of play, he is a lock to foul out of the game. You can't have that.

Godfrey does a better job avoiding fouls, has more offensive upside, and is a better rebounder at this point in both of these guy's careers. I do not have a problem with a guy starting after serving a suspension. As a coach, you owe it to the players to put the best lineup on the floor to try and win the game.

The biggest thing about playing Texas A&M is that you have to be efficient with your possessions. They play one of the slower tempos in Division 1 basketball (322nd according to Pomeroy). It is a game that can be low scoring, and may very well be low scoring. We all know Iowa State is not an efficient half-court team, but this is more likely to be a 10-15 point game, as opposed to a 30 point game.

On the flip-side, if pushed, A&M has shown they can score a lot of points. They dropped 91 against Mizzouri to beat them 91-88  about a month ago. However, if Iowa State is not able to impose their will (which I doubt), I expect this to be a slower game, in which A&M scores in the 60s and Iowa State scores in the 50s.

In general, it is a tough lineup for Iowa State to guard with the smaller lineup they play. We might see a lot more zone than man in this one. A&M plays 3 forwards that are around 6-7 to 6-8. With having two guards that are around 5-11 and 6-0, that means Christopherson (6-3)  has to guard one of the 6-7 guys.  This of course assumes Jake guards one of their guards, and DG the other. Whoever Christopherson guards, that is where the biggest mismatch will be, and that is the guy I'd bet would do most of the damage against the Cyclones. I'd guess it would be Khris Middleton, their leading scorer, because he is biggest outside threat of the forwards, shooting 39% from 3, and being second on the team in 3 point attempts.

It's hard to feel great about this matchup. In order to win, you have to have efficient possessions, and whenver we try to slow it down, he play horribly. Add to that, A&M has some long, athletic guys which are hard to defend. Maybe if Iowa State is able to make 14-15 threes, they will have a shot, but without Vanderbeken, that would mean DG, Christopherson, and Jake would have to make about 5 each...

Game tips off at 7pm tonight, A&M is favored by 10, will be aired on the Big 12 Network/ESPN3.com/ESPNFC. See ya'll at the game thread later tonight.

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