Chattanooga may not be a perennial mid-major power, but they are a team making waves early on this season. The Mocs are 3-0 on the season including a win at Georgia and at a neutral site over Illinois this past Saturday. They are a very experienced team with eight players averaging nearly 30 percent of the team’s minutes played and they are all juniors and seniors.
Who to watch for
Casey Jones is their leading scorer at 12.3 points per game, but the versatile and athletic 6-foot-5 wing is also their top rebounder at 7.3 per game, and leading assist man at 3.3 per game. He is the stat sheet stuffer on the roster, but four other guys average in double figures for scoring as well.
Chattanooga has a disruptive big in Justin Tuoyo who is averaging nearly three swats per game and has the 38th best block rate in the NCAA. He isn’t a polished scorer with his back to the basket but he’s active and big at 6’10” and 235 pounds.
Alongside Tuoyo and Jones you’ll find the two shooters the Cyclones will try to ward off in Greg Pryor and Eric Robertson. Pryor is 6-for-12 on the season from beyond the 3-point arc this season and was a 36 percent shooter last season on 111 attempts, a very solid threat.
Robertson is 6-13 this season and has been a sniper from deep throughout his career as he has currently made 107 of his 261 three-point attempts for 41 percent on his career. He’s a shooter that can’t be given an inch because he’s more than willing to fire them up and he doesn’t need much time or space to get them off.
Johnathon Burroughs-Cook is a pseudo point guard that went off for 23 points against Georgia and is one of their leading distributors though he isn’t much of a threat to shoot from deep.
The entire team is versatile and athletic and the play a somewhat frenetic style on defense with a lot of activity. Against Georgia, they largely won because they were able to force a turnover on 25 percent defensive possessions (21 turnovers) in the two point overtime win. They also hit 40 percent of the three-point shots (12-30), which is right on with their team season average.
When the Mocs have the ball
Chattanooga has been a middle of the pack offensive rebounding team on the whole this season, but against Georgia they racked up 15 offensive boards (35 percent), that’s a lot.
Against Illinois, they again went 12-30 from beyond the three-point line and forced a large number of turnovers at 16 (21 percent of possessions). The Mocs were also extremely efficient scoring inside the paint making 60 percent of their attempts.
The Mocs play somewhat uptempo, just north of 73 possessions per game (60th fastest) and their strongest trait this season has been their shooting. Forty percent from the three-point line on the year and very serviceable conversion rates inside the arc (52 percent) and at the free throw line (70 percent).
They do a good job penetrating the gaps of defenses and moving the ball quickly. They have a surprisingly low assist rate with just the 47th most in the NCAA. Their offenses is very much perimeter oriented and they look for the three-ball. They have attempted the 21st highest rate of shots from beyond the three-point line so far this year (yeah, Chicago State is higher at tenth).
They don’t get to the free throw line very well (228th) and they’ve struggled with turnovers where 22 percent of their possessions end with a giveaway (293rd).
So far this year, the Cyclone defense has done a good job all-around, but with only two games being played they still have a lot to prove with their identity to defend. ISU has the 12th best defensive rebounding rate and they put opponents at the free throw very, very rarely.
The Mocs have had some sparing success getting to the offensive glass and that will be a key area for the Cyclone defense.
When the Cyclones have the ball
Defensively, they played a fair amount of a three-quarter court 1-2-1-1 press against Illinois that gave them some fits. Though, their press breaker was pretty terrible as they didn’t exploit the middle to easily advance the ball. On some instances, they switched it up to a trapping man defense too. I don’t really foresee the press being an issue. If anything, I think Iowa State can really punish them and open up the game.
Chattanooga forces a lot of turnovers and blocks a lot of shots but I don’t think either of those things will slow down the Cyclone offense enough in Ames. The Cyclones have struggled to get going from behind the 3-point line so far this season but even if that continues I think the Cyclones should be fine. So long as they don’t completely fall apart elsewhere. They could do some serious damage getting to the free throw line as well.
The final word
The Mocs are 3-0 and are sporting an impressive resume so far this year, but they haven’t seen a team of Iowa State’s caliber yet. But, they are a very experienced crew that can knock down shots and cause problems well enough to win a game like this if everything falls in their favor.
Defensively, Iowa State will have to do a very good job on their help and recovery and keep their rotations crisp to contest the 3-point shot and win the battle of the glass at that end of the court. On offense, take care of the ball and finish strong around the rim amidst the capable Moc shot blockers. If they can get to the free throw line in there as well then that would certainly help the cause.
I think Iowa State just has too many weapons and too many guys that are better at the type of game that Chattanooga wants to play. Iowa State will cruise to a 15 point win and we’ll all be happy to be back in Hilton again.