Iowa State was prepared for a rough 2017-18 season, but the first two games of the season suggest coach Steve Prohm has his work cut out for him just trying to get his team to maintain some degree of respectability. The Cyclones attempt to set aside two lopsided losses to begin the season Thursday when they face Appalachian State in first-round action of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in Carson, S.C.
While a 74-59 setback at up-and-coming Missouri in Friday’s season opener wasn’t cause for alarm for a squad that lost four starters, a 74-56 home defeat versus Milwaukee was, especially after committing 18 turnovers and shooting 39 percent against a team expected to finish near the bottom of the Horizon League. “You know what everybody’s going to say. You don’t have to check Twitter. You already know what’s on Twitter,” Prohm told the Des Moines Register. The Mountaineers enter this event fresh off a pair of blowouts against overmatched competition, blasting Division II foe Toccoa Falls 135-34 on Saturday before routing Division III opponent Bridgewater 95-57 on Sunday. As a result, Appalachian State is 2-0 to begin a season for the first time since 2010-11.
TV: 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU
ABOUT IOWA STATE (0-2): Help should be on the way for the Cyclones as they expect to welcome back 6-9 Cameron Lard from suspension and 6-9 Princeton graduate transfer Hans Brase, who is completing his recovery from a second ACL surgery. Sophomore Solomon Young (seven points per game) is the lone returning starter from last season’s NCAA Tournament team, and he’s off to a bit of a rough start offensively (42.9 field-goal percentage) after shooting 64.3 percent in a limited role last season. Nick Weiler-Babb, who is averaging 37 minutes per game and the only Cyclone who has scored at least 10 points in each of the first two games, is one of five Big 12 players averaging 12.5 points, five rebounds and 2.5 assists this season.
ABOUT APPALACHIAN STATE (2-0): Junior guard Ronshad Shabazz (24.5 points) has paced the Mountaineers in scoring in both games and is averaging over a point per minute while shooting 62.5 percent from the field and 54.5 percent beyond the arc. Forward Tyrell Johnson (17 points per game, 6.5 rebounds) hasn’t been quite as proficient as his classmate, but he is Appalachian State’s second-leading scorer and one of five Mountaineers averaging at least five rebounds. Jake Wilson is posting team-high marks in rebounds (21) and blocks (five) despite playing only 24 total minutes, spearheading the team with the nation’s best per-game rebounding margin (plus-35), although most of that came as a result of the 71-16 advantage Appalachian State enjoyed in the opener.
1. The winner of this contest will face either Tulsa or Western Michigan in the semifinals.
2. Appalachian State knocked down eight 3-pointers versus Bridgewater after draining a school-record 20 against Toccoa Falls.
3. All eight players that have been available to play in the first two games have scored in both games for the Cyclones.
PREDICTION: Iowa State 69, Appalachian State 68