Hilton Coliseum hosts the storied rivalry of Iowa State vs. Iowa in the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk series on Thursday.
Iowa State comes into the game winning 11 of its last 17 games in the series, including eight in a row at Hilton Coliseum against the Hawkeyes.
"We're gonna have to be tough-minded, we're gonna have to be selfless on offense, we're gonna have to space them out, we're gonna have to make tough plays," said coach Steve Prohm.
The Hawkeyes are led by center Luka Garza. The 6-foot-11-inch junior is averaging 22.5 points per game on 55 percent shooting and 43.5 percent from three along with 9.8 rebounds.
The Cyclones are led by sophomore guard Tyrese Haliburton, who has taken control of the team this season. Haliburton is averaging 16.2 points, 8.2 assists and six rebounds per game on 51.9 percent shooting from the field and 40.8 percent shooting from three.
Neither team is ranked, but they both have been rolling lately with Iowa State on a two-game win streak, including an upset of then-No. 16 Seton Hall, and Iowa just coming off a 72-52 win over conference rival Minnesota.
The focus for the Cyclones will be on Garza, who has the ability to stretch the floor out to the three-point line but also be a bully inside. He averages 2.3 three-point attempts per game.
"Biggest thing with Garza, you just can't let him first of all catch and beat you," Prohm said. "Solomon's gonna use his strength, George is gonna use length, but they both have to be there on him initially before the ball is thrown in there."
Defense has not been the problem for Iowa State lately, as it shut down Seton Hall for only 66 points on 68 shots. The Pirates shot 36.8 percent overall and an even worse 26.7 percent from distance.
The Cyclones will also have to deal with solid guard play, led by sophomore Joe Wieskamp. Wieskamp is averaging 11.9 points per game to pair with 5.4 rebounds and a 41.8 percent shooting percentage.
Senior Jordan Bohannon has had a down year so far for Iowa and is shooting only 31.9 percent with 8.4 points per game.
Bohannon was instrumental in Iowa's near Sweet Sixteen run in the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
"A block gives me way more satisfaction [than a dunk]," Conditt said. "When you block someone, it just feels a lot better."
Iowa will focus on Iowa State's guards thanks to Haliburton, but the Cyclones have had some solid post play from Michael Jacobson, Solomon Young and George Conditt. Conditt in particular has given low-post defense trouble all season.
Conditt may be the key to stopping Garza. Conditt is averaging over seven blocks per 40 minutes and has impressive analytical numbers to back up that play.
Conditt is leading the team in box plus/minus at 13.9, thanks to a 9.3 defensive box plus/minus. For reference, Haliburton has a 12.8 box plus/minus.
Whatever the reason for the progression in his game, Conditt is prioritizing his defensive strength while Iowa will be vying to snap its losing streak in Hilton Coliseum.
"Coming in here being a kid from Wisconsin, all I knew about college sports was University of Wisconsin," Haliburton said. "I didn't really know the level of rivalry between Iowa State and Iowa and how much it means to people who go to school here, past alumni, people who are just from Iowa. It's definitely something you get immersed in quickly."