3-Point Preview: No. 23 Iowa State hosts Oklahoma at Hilton Coliseum

Jan 4, 2023; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Iowa State Cyclones center Osun Osunniyi (21) shoots against the Oklahoma Sooners during the first half at Lloyd Noble Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Location: Hilton Coliseum
Time: 11 a.m.
KenPom Prediction: 67-60, Iowa State

1 – Fast Start

Iowa State’s win over Oklahoma back on Jan. 4 was fueled by getting off to one of its fastest starts of the season. The Cyclones led 25-7 within the first 10 minutes of the game, and already had nearly an 80 percent chance of winning at that point, according to KenPom.

Of course, that fast start was negated by a rough stretch that allowed Oklahoma to work its way back into the game and take a two-point lead late in the first half.

Iowa State won the game, though, and setting the tone from the opening tip is a big reason why.

“When our guys jump out to that lead and when we’re aggressive, especially at Hilton, it certainly gives us a great chance,” Iowa State head coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “I thought that’s something that happened down there in Norman.”

One thing that stands out on the box score from the Cyclones’ win in Norman is the fact Iowa State did a tremendous job of guarding without fouling. Oklahoma attempted only nine free throws, which is the fewest Iowa State has allowed a Big 12 team to shoot this season.

Even though Oklahoma made all nine of its foul shots, Iowa State still won that area of the game by going 12-of-16 from its free-throw line.

The statistics prove Iowa State’s status as the aggressor in that game. They’ll have to be the aggressors again in order to secure their second Big 12 sweep of the season.

“When they’re at their best, they can really space you offensively with (Tanner) Groves at the five,” Otzelberger said. “They turn into the aggressor because they’re able to space that floor offensively and they don’t turn the ball over. I think when they’re having challenges it’s not spaced as well and they are turning it over more.”

2 – Names to know

Otzelberger’s mention of Groves is key as he’s the player who makes what Oklahoma does unique. He’s a true five-man with the ability to step out on the perimeter and knock down shots from deep.

He’s also a high-level playmaker for his teammates and is highly efficient at scoring around the rim as he’s shooting 66 percent on 2-point shots this season to rank No. 56 nationally. Add in the fact that he’s a 32 percent 3-point shooter and you’ve got a center who can give anybody problems.

He gave Iowa State some problems in their first match-up, tallying 15 points on 5-of-5 from 2-point range and 1-of-4 from 3-point range with eight rebounds.

“He’s big, he plays physical,” Iowa State senior center Robert Jones said. “He’s got a strong lower body. He plays through fouls well. He’s good in the post because he finds ways to push you out on your catches and when you’re making your moves.”

If Tanner Groves is the conductor of the train, Grant Sherfield is the engine.

The 6-foot-2 Wichita native is averaging 16.5 points and shooting 41 percent from 3-point range this season after transferring from Nevada. In the first game between these teams, Iowa State’s Gabe Kalscheur held Sherfield to four points on 1-of-7 shooting from the field.

The match-up of Kalscheur vs. Sherfield might be the biggest one to watch on Saturday. Kalscheur struggled to score in the first game against Oklahoma, too, but he made up for it by playing lockdown defense on one of the league’s best bucket-getters.

“We did a great job of guarding Sherfield, specifically, who is their leading scorer and most aggressive offensive player,” Otzelberger said. “I think we did a great job as a team containing him. We got the right guys that we wanted taking shots from the perimeter.”

3 – Turning them over

Iowa State’s ability to turn Oklahoma over and create easy opportunities out of those takeaways could be the biggest key to the game. The Sooners aren’t the best team in America at taking care of the basketball and the Cyclones turned them over 13 times in their first meeting.

Oklahoma enters Saturday’s game ranking No. 289 nationally in offensive turnover percentage and they’re ninth in the league in that same stat since league play started.

Additionally, Porter Moser’s team ranks 10th in the league in offensive efficiency, offensive rebounding percentage and free throw rate. They’re also ninth in effective field goal percentage and 3-point percentage, but they are third in 2-point percentage.

Defensively, Oklahoma ranks No. 9 in the league in defensive efficiency but is middle of the road in most defensive statistics besides opposing turnover percentage, where they rank last in the conference.

Look, this is a game Iowa State should win. Oklahoma has played good ball at times this season, but they’ve never been able to sustain that level of good play for extended periods.

The Cyclones will need to come out of the gates as the aggressors in front of their home crowd, but if they do that, they’ll give themselves a great chance to clinch the program’s first .500 record in Big 12 play since 2018-19.

Jared Stansbury


Jared a native of Clarinda, Iowa, started as the Cyclone Fanatic intern in August 2013, primarily working as a videographer until starting on the women’s basketball beat prior to the 2014-15 season. Upon earning his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State in May 2016, Jared was hired as the site’s full-time staff writer, taking over as the primary day-to-day reporter on football and men’s basketball. He was elevated to the position of managing editor in January 2020. He is a regular contributor on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines and makes regular guest appearances on radio stations across the Midwest. Jared resides in Ankeny with his four-year-old puggle, Lolo.