WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT ALABAMA STATE
The Hornets got blitzed from the word go against Mississippi State in their season opener on Friday night; the Bulldogs leapt out to a 25-9 lead in the first ten minutes and led 56-31 at halftime. The second half went a little better for Alabama State -- they only got outscored 38-37! -- but giving up 56 points in a half and trailing by 25 points at halftime turns out to be a good way to get blown out. Who knew! Mississippi State averaged 1.19 points per possession (that's good!) and shot 31/64 from the floor (48%), including 24/44 (54.5%) on two-point shots. They also got to the free throw line a lot; Alabama State got rang up for 26 fouls and Mississippi State went 27/35 at the line.
Alabama State started three sophomores and two juniors and has only one senior in their regular rotation, so they're fairly young team overall. Their top offensive threats on Friday were Ed Jones, a 6-8, 205 lb junior forward who scored 16 points on 7/11 shooting, and Jacoby Ross, a 5-9, 165 lb freshman guard who came off the bench to score 17 points. He was also their main deep threat, going 5/8 from beyond the arc; the rest of the team went 2/18. Alabama State has no one taller than 6-8 in their regular rotation, so Iowa ought to have a significant size advantage in this game. Mississippi State had quite a bit of success in the post, too, so this could be another big game for Luka Garza and Tyler Cook (among others). Like Chicago State, Alabama State is not a good team -- they've been a sub-300 KenPom team in three of the last six seasons and their high-water mark in that stretch was finishing #264 in 2015 (also the only time in that span they've finished with a winning record) -- and this should be another easy rout for Iowa.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Again, I'm not going to reinvent the wheel here, especially when Matt did such a fine job earlier this week and nothing much has really changed -- so give a look at his write-up if you haven't done so already. Outside of some of the freshmen gaining confidence and everyone hopefully avoiding injuries, there's not a lot to learn about Iowa in these season opening games.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
PG: Jordan Bohannon
SG: Isaiah Moss
SF: Ahmad Wagner
PF: Tyler Cook
C: Luka Garza
The one wrinkle to watch here would be Nunge getting his first career start at the 3-spot; Fran has been tinkering with different options there while Nicholas Baer is out and Alabama State is certainly a good opponent to try new things against. Nunge and Wagner each played 19 minutes against Chicago State, so I'd expect both to get plenty of action in this one, no matter who starts.
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