After a week’s break from action, Iowa State looks for its fifth straight victory when it hosts Northern Illinois in a non-conference contest Monday night. The Cyclones defeated Western Illinois on Nov. 25 but hasn’t played since, while the Huskies had just a day of rest between Saturday’s win over Chicago State and this contest.
Sophomore guard Eugene German leads Northern Illinois in scoring at 19 points per game, having scored a season-high 26 points and dished out a career-best six assists in the win over Chicago State. The guard trio of Nick Weiler-Babb (14 points, 7.5 rebounds, 6.8 assists), Donovan Jackson (15.8 points) and Lindell Wigginton (13 points) has been a majority of Iowa State’s offense this season. The Cyclones have been hot offensively during their four-game winning streak, increasing their scoring average by 24.7 points (57.5 to 82.2) and their field-goal percentage by nearly eight percent (38.8 to 46.6). Coach Steve Prohm is happy about his team’s defensive performance in its last outing, when it held Western Illinois to 32.8 percent shooting and just 45 points.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPNU
ABOUT NORTHERN ILLINOIS (4-3): While the focus was on the Huskies’ offense in an 18-point victory over Chicago State on Saturday, coach Mark Montgomery had actually been on his team to play better defense, which was evident in the win. Northern Illinois scored 95 points, though that offensive display was helped by the team’s stifling first-half defense against Chicago State, as the Huskies held the Cougars to 34.5 percent shooting, including 21.4 percent from 3-point range, en route to a 19-point lead. Montgomery, a former assistant to Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, believes his team must play solid defense and rebound to be competitive, areas that will lead to much more offense, and hopefully, many more wins.
ABOUT IOWA STATE (4-2): The week-long break between games has Prohm excited about the next few weeks of competition for the Cyclones. With eight overall newcomers to the team this season, Prohm embraced the break, having practices with smaller groups so he was able to work closer with players, refine what they’ve already been taught based on what they’ve shown so far this season. The switch of Weiler-Babb to point guard was made after the first two contests of the season, so Prohm didn’t have a chance to change things up as much as he wanted when the switch was made, but now he feels like he’s had that chance, and the Cyclones should be better for it.
1. Northern Illinois swingman Levi Bradley is shooting 93.1 percent from the free-throw line, ranking second in the Mid-American Conference and 32nd nationally, and has converted his last 18 attempts.
2. Three Iowa State freshmen — Wigginton (21 points), forward Cameron Lard (14) and guard Terrence Lewis (12) — all notched career-high scoring totals in the win over Western Illinois.
3. The Cyclones have won 31 consecutive games when leading at halftime, including all four during their current winning streak.
PREDICTION: Iowa State 86, Northern Illinois 72