Iowa State looks to run its current winning streak to four when it hosts unbeaten Western Illinois in a non-conference matchup Saturday night. The Cyclones started the season 0-2 before going undefeated in the 2017 Puerto Rico Tip-Off, while the Leathernecks are trying for their second 5-0 start in the three seasons.
Western Illinois has been very efficient offensively, leading the Summit League in field-goal percentage at 54.9, led by 7-0 center Brandon Gilbeck’s (78.4). Senior swingman Dalan Ancrum leads the Leathernecks in scoring, notching 21 points a contest, with Gilbeck second with 17.5 points while leading the team in rebounding with 8.3 caroms a contest. The Cyclones lit it up in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, averaging 86.3 points in the three contests after scoring just 57.5 per game in their first two outings. Iowa State’s guard trio of Donovan Jackson (17.2 points), Nick Weiler-Babb (15.6 points, 7.6 rebounds) and Lindell Wigginton (11.4 points) has been the driving force in the team’s turnaround.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, No TV
ABOUT WESTERN ILLINOIS (4-0): While the Leathernecks have been able to shoot a high percentage, they’ve also been successful because of their play on the backboards, where they’re outrebounding teams by more than 14.5 per game. Gilbeck has been the leader, but Ancrum (six), Isaac Johnson (five) and Kobe Webster and Jeremiah Usiosefe (3.8 apiece) have chipped in as well. Coach Billy Wright wanted more attention on the glass this season after the Leathernecks were outboarded by nearly three rebounds a game last season and it’s been paying off.
ABOUT IOWA STATE (3-2): Coach Steve Prohm is trying to keep his team humble after the turnaround it made from its 0-2 start, which coincided with moving Weiler-Babb to point guard and Jackson and Wigginton off the ball. The offensive improvement came with better tempo and ball movement, though Prohm is still wanting his team focused on improving, especially on the defensive end, where Appalachian State was able to put up 98 points in the tourney opener. Still, the results so far have been good for the new lineup, and Prohm is hoping to see even more improvement as the team gets more used to it.
1. Weiler-Babb is the only player in the country averaging at least 15.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, six assists and shooting at least 60 percent from the field.
2. Iowa State is averaging nine made 3-pointers per game over its last three outings after making a total of nine in its first two games of the season.
3. Wigginton posted his first career double-double with a 14-point, 10-rebound performance in the win over Boise State Sunday.
PREDICTION: Iowa State 82, Western Illinois 70