Feb 29, 2020; Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA; Iowa State Cyclones guard Prentiss Nixon (11) dribbles past Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Lindy Waters III (21) during the second half at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports
Time: 6 p.m. CST
Location: Kansas City, Mo.
KenPom Prediction: 74-71, Oklahoma State
1 – Replacing Rasir
As of this writing, it remains unclear whether or not Rasir Bolton will play for Iowa State against the Cowboys. Steve Prohm called the sophomore guard a game-time decision, but, from what this reporter could see during Iowa State’s open shootaround on Tuesday at the Sprint Center, it seems unlikely the former Penn State transfer, who is averaging 14.7 points per game, will play in the Big 12 Tournament opener.
That opens the door to the question of who will replace Bolton’s production? There is a lot of that to replace from the program’s two regular-season games against Mike Boynton’s team this season as Bolton scored 21 points, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range, and grabbed nine rebounds in the win on Jan. 21 then followed that up with 16 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals in the loss on Feb. 29.
Some of this will fall on the shoulders of Prentiss Nixon, who is expected to play despite an ankle injury suffered in the regular-season finale loss to Kansas State. The Cyclones will also have to hope freshmen Tre Jackson and Caleb Grill can elevate their games to give them some sort of offensive production in place of their most consistent scorer not named Tyrese Haliburton.
After that, well, Bolton’s absence could spell more minutes for walk-on Nate Jenkins, just like it did on Saturday in Manhattan.
2 – Keeping the ball
The number that jumps off the page from Iowa State’s 73-61 loss to Oklahoma State in Stillwater late last month is the 17 turnovers the Cyclones surrendered. The Cowboys took two fewer field goals in the game, but it opened the door for Boynton’s squad to put the ball in the basket at a nearly 58 percent clip from inside the 3-point arc, many of those buckets coming in transition.
That game was the start of a stretch in which Iowa State has given the ball away 17, 12 and 19 times. Those 19 turnovers came in the team’s first game without Bolton.
In other words, they are already struggling to take care of the ball, which makes its importance even bigger on Wednesday with the season on the line.
3 – Containing Cam
OSU’s senior forward Cameron McGriff played one of his best games of the season during the win over Iowa State by scoring 19 points, on 6-of-11 shooting from the field, 6-of-6 from the free-throw line, plus seven rebounds and three assists.
Keeping McGriff from getting loose will be key in Iowa State potentially extending its season. Regardless, Iowa State has hardly anything to lose at this point considering the way this season has gone.