As the NCAA tournament tips off and the participating teams get rolling, Ohio State fans will have to stay up past their bedtime to watch the No. 11 seeded Buckeyes take on the No. 6 seed Iowa State Cyclones. That game is one of the final Friday games and has a current tip time of 9:50 p.m. ET.
Iowa State finished the season 23-11 and 9-9 during conference play and went 3-0 in the conference tournament with a Big 12 championship win over Kansas 78-66. Iowa State is averaging a Big 12 best 77.4 points per game and have five guys averaging over nine points per game. They also shooting the ball at 47.7 percent from the floor, which is first in the Big 12.
So with the Cyclones taking on the Buckeyes in the round of 64 on Friday night, let’s take a look at the starting line up and key reserves for Iowa State and how they match up with Ohio State.
Guard - Marial Shayok: 18.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.0 apg
Shayok is the scoring leader for this Cyclones team and has been one of the best scorers in the Big 12 conference. He is a transfer from Virginia and has made the most of his time under Steve Prohm. He was selected to the First Team All-Big 12 this season and was key part of the Cyclones success in the Big 12 tournament.
Shayok is a shifty guard that shoots the ball at 49.4 percent from the field and 38 percent from behind the arc. He is also an 88 percent free throw shooter so he is not someone that you want at the free throw line in a close game. If the Buckeyes want to pull off the upset, they will need to use multiple defensive sets to throw off Shayok and force him into difficult jump shots.
Shayok has been one of the more consistent scorers for Iowa State on the season, having failed to score double digits in just two games. His season high is 26 points which happened three different times (Texas Southern, Southern and Kansas).
Guard - Talen Horton-Tucker: 12.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.3 spg
Horton-Tucker is one of the better scorers and rebounders on the team. This Cyclone team only starts one forward with Jacobson, so they need solid rebounding production from the guards. Guys like Horton-Tucker, Weiler Babb and Shayok help give them that as they all average close to 5.0 rebounds per game.
Horton-Tucker is one of the “do-it-all” guys for Iowa State. A good scorer, rebounder and defender makes Horton-Tucker one of the better freshman in the conference and earned him a spot on the Big 12 All-Freshman team. Although, he has not been that efficient of a scorer this season, shooting just 40 percent from the field.
However, he has had some solid performances on the offensive side of the ball this season as well, putting up 26 point outings against Texas Southern and Illinois. In that Illinois game, he also had 14 total rebounds. Horton-Tucker can benefit greatly from the added attention that Shayok can draw and when teams double Shayok, Horton-Tucker gets opportunities to score the ball.
Forward - Michael Jacobson: 11.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 0.8 apg
Jacobson is the leading rebounder and the lone starting forward on this Iowa State team. Jacobson is one of the most efficient scorers, shooting 59 percent from the field. He is not known as an outside shooter, but he is capable of stepping out and knocking the ball down from deep if he has too, similar to Kaleb Wesson for Ohio State.
Jacobson does play with pressure on him since he is the only forward in the starting line up and the only starter standing at or above 6-foot-8. With Wesson and Kyle Young, Jacobson will have some trouble down low and the Buckeyes can expect Iowa State to run some high-low action with Jacobson to get open outside looks for Shayok, Wigginton and Tyrese Haliburton.
Guard - Nick Weiler-Babb: 9.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.4 spg
Weiler-Babb is another player that can be labeled as a do everything guy. He is tied for second on the team in rebounds per game, leads the team in assists per game and also leads the team in minutes per game at 34.3. Weiler-Babb is also a senior and is one of the leaders of this program. He transferred from Arkansas to Iowa State after his freshman season.
The “glue guy” of this Cyclone program will likely play the most minutes against Ohio State along with Shayok. He also leads the team in Assist-Turnover ratio and will do most of the ball handling for Iowa State. The Buckeyes will have to make him uncomfortable and force a couple early turnovers to throw him off balance. If they do not, Weiler-Babb will be able to put up a lengthy stat line and facilitate the basketball to Shayok and Wigginton for open looks.
Guard - Tyrese Haliburton: 6.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.5 spg
Haliburton is the other freshman starter along with Horton-Tucker and even though he does not have the numbers that Horton-Tucker does, he is just as valuable. Haliburton is the best shooter on this Cyclones team at 44.1 percent from three and almost 52 percent from the field. He only averaged just under seven points per game, but with his ability to score from outside, he is still very dangerous.
He also is one of the better defenders on this team, averaging 1.5 steals per game which is best on the team. Haliburton is someone to watch because while most of the focus is on Shayok and Wigginton, Haliburton can hurt you from deep if you stop paying attention to him.
Guard - Lindell Wigginton: 13.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.2 apg
Wigginton is not a starter for the Cyclones, but he plays over 25 minutes per game and is second on the team in points. The Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year averages 13.5 points per game in 25 minutes, so he knows how to make good use of the minutes that he gets. He put up a team high 17 points in the Big 12 championship game win over Kansas and played 29 minutes off the bench.
He was sidelined early in the season for six weeks with an injury, but over the last 12 games, he is averaging over 15 ppg while shooting almost 50 percent from the field. He provides them with a spark off the bench.
Even though he has only played in 24 games this season, Wigginton was selected to the All-Big 12 honorable mention team after a stellar sophomore season.
Forward - Cameron Lard: 5.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 0.5 apg
Lard is the second man off the bench behind Wigginton and provides good minutes at 12.2 a game. Especially in this matchup with Kaleb Wesson, Iowa State will look for Lard to give them a solid 12-15 minutes of action while Jacobson is on the bench.