Iowa State begins its 109th season of men’s basketball and the first under head coach Steve Prohm Friday afternoon when it plays Colorado at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. The Cyclones are looking to make their fifth-straight NCAA Tournament.
The Cyclones and Buffs, a former Big 12 school, will meet for the first time since 2011 and the 148th time overall. The Cyclones and Buffaloes are the sixth game of the 2015-16 college basketball season to tip off and ISU is the first nationally ranked team to play.
Iowa State beat Grand Valley State, 106-60, in its only exhibition game prior to Friday’s season opener. ISU shot 60.7 percent from the field and hit 16-of-32 three-point shots.
The Cyclones are ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press preseason poll, the highest preseason ranking in school history. This is the fifth time in school history that the Cyclones have been ranked in the preseason poll with the previous top ranking (9) coming in 1996-97 under Tim Floyd. The Cyclones have been ranked in a school-record 38 consecutive polls.
On Monday, Georges Niang became Iowa State’s first Associated Press preaseason All-American since Jamaal Tinsley in 2000.
Iowa State was picked third in the Big 12 preseason poll. Niang was a preseason All-Big 12 pick, while Monté Morris and Jameel McKay received honorable mention. Deonte Burton, who will be eligible starting on Dec. 19, was named Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year.
Iowa State is 86-22 all-time in season openers, which includes 17 straight wins. The Cyclones are opening the season away from the friendly confines of Hilton Coliseum for the first time since 1994-95 when ISU opened Tim Floyd’s first season in Hawaii. The Cyclones are 10-10 all-time in season openers played on the road.
Iowa State returns four starters from last year’s team that finished 25-9 overall and 12-6 in Big 12 play. ISU has 71.5 percent of its scoring and 61.2 percent of its rebounding back from last season.
Leading the way on the court for the Cyclones will be Niang, a three-time All-Big 12 performer. Niang averaged a team-best 15.3 points and a career-best 5.4 rebounds last season. He is fifth nationally among active players in career scoring (1,510) entering his final season.
Morris figures to see his production continue to increase under Prohm. The junior guard averaged 11.9 points and 5.2 assists, while again leading the nation with a 4.6 assist-to-turnover ratio. He dished out 176 assists and had just 38 turnovers last season. In his career, Morris has averaged just one turnover every 32.8 minutes he has played.
McKay didn’t become eligible to play last season until the middle of December and his impact was felt immediately. He dominated the defensive end on his way to earning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year accolades. McKay averaged 2.4 blocks per game to go along with 11.0 points and 7.6 rebounds.
Three Cyclones are returning from surgery, including starter Nazareth Mitrou-Long (hips). Also coming off surgery are redshirt sophomore Hallice Cooke (hips) and freshman Brady Ernst (knee). All three are available to play for the Cyclones.
ISU has been to a school-record four consecutive NCAA Tournaments.
The Cyclones have won back-to-back Big 12 Tournament titles, just the fourth school to win consecutive titles.
ISU has bettered its preseason Big 12 prediction four consecutive seasons…ISU was picked third in this season’s preseason poll.
The Cyclones have won at least 11 league games in each of the last four seasons, which is a school record.
Iowa State has won its last 17 season openers.
ISU has won 27 regular season home games in a row against nonconference opponents…the Cyclones have won 22 of their last 23 games at home, including 15 of 16 league games.
Jameel McKay has averaged 5.3 field-goal attempts per game in his career, shooting 58.3 percent from the field.
Morris has 256 assists and 55 turnovers in 51 career starts… ISU is 29-5 when Morris has at least five assists…in the last 13 games he’s played, Morris has a combined 12 turnovers…in ISU’s scrimmage against Tulane and exhibition against Grand Valley State, Morris combined for 20 assists and two turnovers.
Morris averaged 16.3 points the last seven games of 2014-15…he shot 53.1 percent from the field, 58.8 percent (10-17) from behind the arc and 85.7 percent at the line in that stretch.
ISU is 14-2 in the last three seasons when Morris and Niang combine for 10 or more assists.
Nazareth Mitrou-Long has 13 career games with 4+ threes made…ISU is 11-2 when Mitrou-Long makes four or more 3s.
Niang leads the Cyclones with 80 career double-figure scoring games.
Morris has at least one steal in 28 of the last 29 games.
McKay has 59 blocks in 25 career games, which includes 17 games with at least two blocks.
Iowa State beat Grand Valley State by 46 points (106-60) in its only exhibition game…the Cyclones shot 60.7 percent from the field and hit 16-of-32 three-pointers.