WHO: Alabama State Hornets (2-2) | KenPom #321
WHEN: 7:30 PM CT, Wednesday, November 21
WHERE: Carver-Hawkeye Arena (Iowa City, IA)
RADIO: Learfield Sports affiliates (check local listings)
ONLINE AUDIO: TuneIn
VEGAS: Iowa -26
Iowa returns home for a game before taking six days off over the Thanksgiving break, fresh off winning a shiny new trophy at the 2K Empire Classic last week and returning to the Top 25 after a three-year absence. All in all, a pretty good week! The opponent in tonight's game? Alabama State, who is decidedly Not Good.
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT ALABAMA STATE
The Hornets are 2-2 on the year, but both of their wins came against non-D1 competition, LaGrange and Birmingham Southern. Against D1 competition, they lost 79-53 to Iowa State and 78-61 to South Dakota State. Alabama State ranks 312th in the nation in offensive efficiency... and defensive efficiency! They're poor on both ends of the floor. On offense, they haven't shot the ball well (47.2 eFG%), they've turned the ball over a lot (turnovers on 21.7% of offensive possessions), they don't get a lot of offensive rebounds off their misses (just 23.0% of the time), and they don't get to the free throw line much (their free throw rate ranks 307th in the country).
They're lousy at making 2-point shots (40%, 329th in the country) and horrendous at making free throws (44.4%, 352nd in the country), although they have been pretty good at making 3s so far this year: they've made 37.5% of their efforts from distance, 75th best in the country. They've allowed opponents to make 53.8% of their shots this year and grab offensive rebounds on 36.8% of their misses. They have limited opponent trips to the free throw line (their opponent free throw rate is 55th in the country), but that might be because opponents don't need to attempt many free throws when they're able to make such a high percentage of their field goals.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Most of the Hornets' scoring so far this season has come from the backcourt. Jacoby Ross, a 5'9" sophomore point guard, is averaging 15.3 ppg on 40.8% shooting, including 40% from 3-point range (12/30). Reginald Gee, a 6'3" junior shooting guard, is averaging a team-high 16.5 ppg on 48.8% shooting, including 50% from deep (8/16). Branden Johnson, a 6'8" sophomore forward, is averaging 8.3 ppg on 63% shooting and 8.5 rpg.
But this game ultimately shouldn't be much about what the Hornets are able to do, but rather what sort of mindset Iowa brings to the game. If they're locked in and really focused on this game, it should be a rout. Iowa has a significant talent advantage on the Hornets. But if they're looking past the Hornets and thinking about Thanksgiving, this game could be a little stickier, at least for a half or so. So let's see Iowa pound the ball inside to Tyler Cook, Luka Garza, and Ryan Kriener and let them go to work. Let's see Iowa's outside shooting break out of its early season funk and get firing. This would be a good chance to get Cordell Pemsl some work if he's healthy, and for Maishe Dailey and Isaiah Moss to try and get going as well. Take care of business, Hawkeyes.