Chattanooga-Iowa St. Preview
With 6-foot-9 Jameel McKay patrolling the paint, Iowa State possesses a strong interior defense.
It's the fourth-ranked Cyclones' perimeter D, however, that will be tested against visiting Chattanooga on Monday night in an Emerald Coast Classic Tipoff game.
McKay, second in the Big 12 in blocked shots with 2.4 per game last season, recorded his first two of this season in last Monday's 106-64 win over Chicago State - coach Steve Prohm's home debut with Iowa State (2-0).
The preseason all-Big 12 pick overpowered the Cougars inside, dunking 10 times and finishing with a career-high 25 points. He also had 11 rebounds after getting 10 boards in the opener against Colorado.
''The thing about Jameel is that he brings a ton of energy,'' senior forward Georges Niang said. ''He runs the floor better than any big man I've ever seen, and really we just feed off his energy. He's the key guy for us.''
Niang and Abdel Nader are also key components in Iowa State's offense, with Niang totaling 28 points and 10 assists and Nader scoring 31.
The Cyclones, trying to move to 3-0 for a fourth straight season, have five players averaging at least 13.0 points.
''We're still learning each other,'' Prohm said. ''I know we've got a talented team ... and I think we're just going to continue to get better in November, December, January and February as we continue to get a better feel for one another.''
Iowa State has won 28 straight at home against nonconference opponents, but Chattanooga won't be intimated coming to Hilton Coliseum having knocked off a couple of power-conference teams on the road.
The Mocs (3-0) jumped out to a 15-point lead at Illinois on Saturday and rallied late for an 81-77 win. Down by nine with just over six minutes to play, Chattanooga got five straight 3-pointers from four players to regain the lead.
Seeking their first 4-0 start since 1989-90, the Mocs have made 12 3s in each game, shooting 41.9 percent from beyond the arc.
Eric Robertson had a team-high 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting from 3-point range against the Illini. Chattanooga placed six scorers in double figures.
"That's what we want every single night," coach Matt McCall said of the balanced attack. "We want our guys having a high number of assists and sharing the basketball, so we're going to get five or six guys in double figures. We have the firepower and the depth on offense to be able to do that almost every single night."
The Mocs, who opened with a win at Georgia, have defeated two power-conference opponents for the first time since 1996-97, when they also upset Georgia and Illinois in the NCAA Tournament.
The victory over the No. 19 Illini in the 1997 NCAAs, however, marks their last against a ranked opponent. They've lost 20 straight to Top 25 teams, falling 89-45 to No. 3 Wisconsin in their only matchup with one last season.
This will be Chattanooga's first meeting with Iowa State, which is 10-0 against the Southern Conference.