The Kansas A quick rundown of important items of note for tonight's matchup between the Jayhawks and the Cyclones.Jayhawks open up Big 12 play at home tonight against a 10-3 Iowa State team. Kansas will look to improve offensively from the last game against temple, where the Jayhawks were held to just 69 points, 10.6 below KU's 79.6 home average.
KU's lack luster performance against the Owls may come off as troubling, but much of that had to do with a quality Temple opponent and it should provide Kansas with a taste of how difficult Big 12 play will be.
As for the Cyclones, Iowa State is hitting 52.2% from the field and they currently rank 1st in the Big 12 in scoring, 2nd in assists and offensive rebounds. The Cyclones are a solid offensive unit and Kansas will look to slow down Fred Hoiberg's attack. The last time these two faced off in the Fieldhouse The Jayhawks found themselves in a hole for most of the game, could this game be similar or will the Jayhawks get back on track and take an early step in the Big 12 title hunt.
When: Wednesday, January 9, 7:00 PM ET
Where: Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Kansas
No injuries to report.
Utah Transfer G Will Clyburn (14.1 PPG-7.4 RPG) leads the backcourt in scoring and rebounds and is accompanied by G Tyrus McGee (13.4 PPG-4.1 RPG), Penn State transfer G Chris Babb (9.2 PPG-2.5 APG) and Michigan State transfer Korie Lucious (9.7 PPG-5.4 APG). Tyrus McGee will be taking most of the three point shots, as he is 49% from deep, so KU must be careful when defending the perimeter.
Iowa State's success has been largely dependent on offense this year and typically there is enough of it to make up for the Cyclone's lack of defense. Iowa State has losses to Cincinnati, UNLV and Iowa and have PPG's of 74.6, 78.8 and 75.5 respectively so KU's 77.7 PPG should be enough to cut through the Cyclone defense.
F Justin Wesley (Finger)
Iowa State may have an impressive backcourt but KU also has a couple of talented guards. The Jayhawk's backcourt is led by dark horse POY candidate G Ben McLemore (15.6 PPG-5.5 RPG) and is joined by G Travis Releford (13.4 PPG-1.2 SPG) and G Elijah Johnson (10 PPG-5.2 APG). The Jayhawks lead the Big 12 in assists and that is due mostly to the starting trio as well as the recent emergence of Naadir Tharpe as a very capable backup (5.1 PPG-3 APG). This group averages a combined 13.3 APG.
Weakness: Mid-Range Jumper
Of the many strengths on this Jayhawk team, there are but a few imperfections that KU could correct. One of those would be the mid ranger jumper that so many in the college game struggle with. Withey can make the baby hook, Kevin Young, Travis Releford and Ben McLemore get to the rim for their share of layups and dunks, Kansas as a team can even hit the three with a fair amount of consistency. However, just as almost everyone in college basketball, the mid range jumper is a bit of a lost art. Kansas seems to hit enough of them, but it's not a huge piece to the puzzle.
Kansas has hit roughly about 43% from mid range, 38% from three and 58% in the paint, so for accuracy and more points, why does KU take so many? KU has taken 91 this year so maybe they should just take a few more steps outside to the arc and get one extra point for their efforts.
Trending Up: Kansas Three Point Shooting
I am sure that many Kansas fans remember the Jayhawks three point shooting woes. For much of the first two months KU was hitting threes in the low 30's, but now the Jayhawks are hitting 38% on the year and has been averaging about 8 for 17 in their last 5 games which averages out to a 48% three point percentage. The fact that KU has been hitting high three point percentage with so many shots taken means that KU can make the three, when they need to.
Player Trending Down: F Melvin Ejim
Ejim is averaging close to a double-double with 10.5 PPG and 9.2 RPG, but has been trending down of late and only averages 21.4 minutes per game at this point. If Iowa State wants to have a presence in the paint then they'd better do it early or they could disappear from the contest altogether.
With this game being played in the Fieldhouse and it being the first Big 12 opponent of the year, I find it realistic that KU will win this game with ease, although last year's game with Iowa State was anything but that. The Jayhawks main priorities should be to keep Tyrus McGee from getting his shot, extinguish the Iowa State offense early, , and take advantage of Iowa State's somewhat soft defense inside and attack the basket.