Iowa State (8-2) will return to action Sunday evening inside Hilton Coliseum against the Florida A&M Rattlers (5 p.m., ESPN+).
The Cyclones are coming off a 107-56 win over Prairie View A&M, and ride a three-game win-streak coming in.
Florida A&M coach Robert McCullum is in his seventh season at the helm at the program. He has coached the Rattlers to a 2-5 record this season with wins over Presbyterian and LeMoyne-Owen College, a Division ll school in Tennessee.
The Rattlers have played the third toughest non-conference strength of schedule in the country per KenPom, starting the year with losses to Creighton, Nebraska, Florida and Oregon. Their fifth loss came to Division ll Albany State.
McCullum has had previous success inside Hilton Coliseum. On New Year’s Eve in 2019, he and the Rattlers traveled to Ames to play the Cyclones and came away with a 70-68 upset win.
Florida A&M has three players averaging double figures this season, led by North Carolina A&T transfer Love Bettis. The 5-foot-11 point guard is averaging 15.3 points per game on a 47.7 percent shooting clip. He is also the team leader in steals per game with 1.5.
South Georgia State College transfer Keith Lamar (14.3) and freshman guard K’Jei Parker (10.1) are the other two Rattlers averaging double figures.
On the offense
This Rattler’s team is very similar to the one Iowa State faced four years ago. That team only attempted seven 3-pointers in that game and made a living in the mid-range area. The 2023-2024 Florida A&M team loves that same shot.
McCullum’s squad is ranked third-to-last in all of Division 1 in 3-pointers attempted per game. Iowa State’s no-middle defense plays perfectly to what the Rattlers want to do on the offensive end of the floor.
If the Cyclones can keep the ball out of the paint and contest Florida A&M’s mid-range jumpers, it should created opportunities get out and run in transition.
T.J. Otzelberger and his staff have implemented a system of tough, relentless, and stingy defense when they got to Ames. They have finished in the top 10 in adjusted defense in the KenPom ratings in Otzelberger’s first two seasons.
Through nine games this season, the Cyclones are fifth in the ratings with a chance to jump into the top 3 before Big 12 conference play starts in January.
Iowa State is playing its third team out of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). Most SWAC teams play a plethora of zone or full-court press defenses against Power 5 teams to try and make up for the talent gap.
Florida A&M is the opposite. The Rattlers play a majority of man-to-man defense and play at one of the slowest paces in Division 1.
The Cyclones need to continue to assert their dominance in the paint. They are outscoring opponents 416-168 in the painted area this season.
Tre King and Robert Jones have been the main scoring down low, but players like Keshon Gilbert, Tamin Lipsey and Curtis Jones have been great at getting to the paint for layups and assists.
The pair of teams will square off Sunday at Hilton, and the Rattlers will be on the second night of a back-to-back, as they face Iowa Saturday (3:30 p.m. Big Ten Network) at Wells Fargo Arena.