Cyclones host consistent Aggies squad


Photo: Rebekka Brown/Iowa State Daily

Forward Chelsea Poppens looks to shoot the ball over Nebraska opponents during Tuesday’s game at Hilton Coliseum. Poppens had 6 rebounds and 7 points to help the Cyclones defeat the Huskers 64-43.

Dan Tracy

Off to a 1-2 start in Big 12 play, inconsistency has hurt the Cyclones in their first three conference contests.

“The only thing that’s constant on our team is that Kelsey Bolte is our best player and Chelsea Poppens plays as hard as anyone we have,” said coach Bill Fennelly. “Other than that we’re inconsistent.”

Unfortunately for Fennelly and the No. 20 Cyclones (13-4, 1-2 in Big 12), they welcome in one of the most consistent teams in the country in the No. 6 Texas A&M Aggies.

It will be the second top-20 matchup for the Cyclones in conference play after a 70-58 loss to No. 1 Baylor on Jan. 8. The Aggies (16-1, 4-0) have only one loss to No. 3 Duke — the only unbeaten team left in the country — 61-58. Since the loss to Duke, the Aggies have beaten their last 10 opponents by an average of 32.3 points per game.

It all starts up front for A&M with a Player of the Year candidate in 6-foot-1-inch forward/center Danielle Adams. In her first season with the Aggies in 2009, Adams came off the bench to lead the team in scoring, rebounding and blocks per game including 20 points and four blocks last season when the Aggies knocked off the Cyclones in College Station 68-44.

“She’s Charles Barkley,” Fennelly said. “She’s an undersized, big, physical post player, and she’s not going to out-athlete you, but she’s extremely skilled.”

Adams, now playing 27.4 minutes a game, has continued her dominance in the post this season as she averages 21.6 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game.

“She’s just really physical and knows how to post someone up and get them deep down underneath,” Poppens said. “She has different aspects to her game that we need to work on.”

Aside from Adams, the Aggies play stifling defense and they are very efficient in their half-court offense as they lead the nation with a +11.4 turnover margin.

“They just pressure, pressure, pressure all over the ball and then they deny [passes] everywhere,” said junior point guard Lauren Mansfield. “They don’t let people get the ball, and they’re in the passing lanes, just all over the place.”

It will be a battle of the distributors as Mansfield, second in the Big 12 with 6.2 assists per game, squares off against A&M’s Sydney Colson who leads the conference at 6.3 assists per game.

Tip time is set for 11 a.m. Saturday at Hilton Coliseum.