Iowa State forward Craig Brackins reaches for a loose ball while being closely guarded by Kansas' Marcus Morris in last year's game in Ames, IA.
Another conference victory (albeit a close one) and onward we push in the Quest for Six. Hilton Coliseum has never been an easy place for Kansas to play - or anyone in the Big 12, for that matter. But, for all of the talk of "Hilton Magic," the Jayhawks are 6-1 in their last seven trips to Ames.
An ever-changing roster. Since the end of last season - suspended: guard Chris Colvin, dismissed: guard Mike Taylor and forward L.A. Pomlee, injured long-term: guard Charles Boozer and forward Jamie Vanderbeken, transferred or left team: forward Wesley Johnson (Syracuse) and guard Lucca Staiger (Germany professional league)
So, that leaves what? All-Big 12 candidate Craig Brackins and one other guy I've heard of - Marquis Gilstrap, a senior forward. In a situation that can only be described as bizarre, head coach Greg McDermott obviously is working with a short roster. While the transfer of Johnson was a shock, this week's development with Staiger seems to be even more abrupt. And, that is the case, according to the boss over at Clone Chronicles - the Cyclones SB Nation site.
How Good is Brackins? Well, last year he averaged 31 points per game in two matchups against Kansas, including a 42 point show last year worthy of the all-conference hype, and more. He used his long, lean 6'10" frame to have his way with then-young freshmen Marcus and Markieff Morris. He simply could not be stopped. Inside (8-14), outside (3-5) and from the line (17-21) - he kept the Cyclones in the game singlehandedly. Predictably, his numbers are down a bit this year, with the departure of Johnson leaving him the sole reliable scoring option. Defenses have likely double and triple-teamed him to the point of frustration and reduced his impact greatly. Still, though, he has managed to average over sixteen points a game. He's still only a junior, by the way. He seems like one of those guys that has been around for about eight years, yet still has another year of eligibility, if he wants it.
Record: 12-6 (1-2)
Best Win(s): Bradley, @Nebraska
Worst Loss(es): Northern Iowa (lone Big 12 home loss in non-con)
Informative Iowa State Links
To be honest, I don't expect much trouble from the Cyclones come Saturday - thus the limited amount of insight. The fact is that they have a severely depleted roster, and with the exception of Brackins, not one player that would crack the ten-man Kansas rotation - and that is said with no disrespect intended to their players.
More Iowa State preview coverage to come tomorrow.