In today’s age of college basketball, it would be difficult to find a game with as much familiarity in different teams as Sunday’s matchup between No. 11 Iowa State and No. 17 Oklahoma.
When the two teams square off in Norman (2:00 p.m. ESPN2), Ashley Joens will line up on the same court as her sister, Aubrey, as opponents after she transferred from Iowa State in the off-season.
“None,” Joens said when asked how much trash talk she expected from her sister. “We’re both going to go out and we’re both going to play. After the game, maybe… It should be fun. It’s just another game – we’re going to go out there and compete.”
Meanwhile, Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly will face off against Oklahoma coach Jennie Baranczyk, a former coach at Drake, for the 12th time in their head coaching careers
In 11 meetings, Fennelly’s squads are 8-3, and they’ve faced off at least once every season since Baranczyk’s first year at Drake in 2012.
“They’re going to play the way they play,” Fennelly said. “Transition defense is going to be emphasized. What we try to tell them is, ‘let’s try to guard the front of their jerseys and not the back.'”
Oklahoma ranks fifth in the country, averaging 89.0 points per game offensively.
The style of play is designed to create more shot attempts with more possessions, thus the transition defense focus from Fennelly and his staff.
“Obviously, their style is a little unique,” Fennelly said. “Every coach wants to play with pace. Their pace is on steroids compared to most. The other thing is they are very, very skilled and very, very old. It’s the commitment to their pace and they just keep doing it. If they miss, they just keep shooting it.”
Defensively, though, Oklahoma is ranked No. 331 in the country, dead last in the Big 12 and well below the national average giving up 74.2 points per game.
That number is a bit deceiving of just how good the Sooners are, though.
“It’s not something that they’re going to say is the best defensive team in the country, but the defense improves because their offense puts so much pressure on you,” Fennelly said. You have to keep scoring. They’re smart, they gamble. They’re going to play some man and they’re going to play some zone, but again the pressure they have on offense is going to help them on defense.”
Beyond transition defense, Iowa State will try to limit its turnovers.
The Cyclones are averaging 18.0 turnovers per game thus far in Big 12 action and Fennelly knows his team will have to take better care of the ball on the big stage.
“We’ve just got to be really smart,” Fennelly said. “We’ve got to take better care of the ball then we have the last two games.”
That goes along with a two-game stretch where the Cyclones’ 3-point shooting has been subpar.
Only time will tell, but if the execution is there, Iowa State will have a 3-0 start to the Big 12 season.
“We’re gonna have to make some shots,” Fennelly said. “We’re gonna see some zone and 10-52 ain’t gonna cut it. We’re gonna get some looks and hopefully have a night where we make a couple.
“Hopefully the guys left some good karma for us.”