Tennessee (14-5, 5-3 SEC) will have a tough test Saturday afternoon when it heads north to take on the Iowa State Cyclones (11-8, 2-6 Big 12). History is not on the Vols’ side, as the last five out-of-conference teams to travel to Hilton Coliseum left the contest with a loss.
The Cyclones have struggled so far this season, but Rick Barnes believes the team’s record is a bit misleading, and the Tennessee front court will have its hands full in this matchup.
“Early in the year is when they lost a lot of those games,” Barnes said. “They’ve got a young freshman guard that’s doing a terrific job for them.”
The freshman guard is Lindell Wigginton, a native of Nova Scotia who is averaging 16.2 points and four rebounds per contest. Wigginton is a force on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball, shooting 43 percent from behind-the-arc.
Iowa State, a team averaging nearly 40 rebounds per game, will pose a big threat on the glass for the Vols. With four starters averaging more than four rebounds per game, the Cyclones are a well-rounded team on the glass.
Derrick Walker, a player who has emerged as of late for the Vols, should be in the rotation for Tennessee quite a bit on Saturday afternoon.
Walker, who averages a little over eight minutes per game on the season, has logged 25 and 17 minutes respectively against South Carolina and Vanderbilt. Walker has logged significant minutes as of late and sparked a Tennessee team which struggled on the glass before his recent surge in the lineup.
Jordan Bowden could be a big factor in the game, as he snapped out of a recent shooting slump, connecting on five three-pointers against Vanderbilt while logging 37 minutes in the game.
An exciting matchup to watch could be the Cyclone’s back-court play against the Vols back-court defense. The Cyclones really let it rip from outside, and the Tennessee head coach made sure to recognize that.
“Those guys like to get out and run,” Barnes said. “They get a lot of threes up.”
Tennessee should have a field day inside on the Cyclone’s front court, as Texas’ Mo Bamba had an out of the world performance in a blowout win over Iowa State in its previous game. Bamba posted 24 points and 14 rebounds.
Grant Williams, Walker and Kyle Alexander are all performing at high levels, and they are succeeding while working together. Alexander has recorded 11 blocks over the last four games, and Williams has recorded double digit scoring in all but two games this season.
Tennessee will take on Iowa State at 3:05 p.m. CT.
Edited by Ben McKee
Feature image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics