Kansas got back on the winning track as the Jayhawks maimed Texas Tech in the Quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament. The Jayhawks face a familiar foe that felt as if they should have won the first two meeting between them. Iowa State. The Cyclones come into this game riding an adrenaline rush fueled by a comeback win over Oklahoma and have their aim dead set on revenge. Since these teams have met, almost nothing about each of them have changed, the Cyclones still live (and die) by the three and Kansas still finds most of their success inside the paint. It took Kansas extra minutes to sweep the Cyclones in the regular season, will we see yet another overtime classic? Perhaps. In the Big 12 Tournament anything is possible.
When: Friday, March 15, 7:30 PM ET
Where: Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO
No injuries to report.
Surprise, surprise, Iowa State is good at scoring. In the Cyclones last three games, Iowa State has taken 62% of their shots outside the paint where they have hit 40%. Of those outside shots, 72% of them were three points of which they hit 39%. G Tyrus McGee (13.5 PPG-3.5 RPG) is the most dangerous three-point shooter for the Cyclones, hitting 47% from beyond the arc. The other 38% of those shots taken by Iowa State were inside the paint, where they hit 64%.
Assuming the only Iowa State games you watched were against Kansas, you can probably make the assumption that they have a bad defense, and you’d be right for thinking so! In the Cylcones games against Kansas, Iowa State allowed the Jayhawks to average 52% accuracy from the field and score an average 102.5 points. Iowa State doesn’t play bad defense against just the Jayhawks, they have played bad defense all season. In the Cyclones last three games, Iowa State has allowed team to hit 40% from the field and 55% inside the paint, a place where Kansas thrives offensively.
No Injuries to Report
Strength: Interior Offense
With players like C Jeff Withey (13.6 PPG-8.6 RPG-4BPG) and G Ben McLemore (16.7 PPG-5.3 RPG), you know you’re offense is going to be lethal inside. On the season, Kansas has taken 60% of their shots inside the paint where they have hit about 55%. In the Jayhawks last five games, Kansas has taken 49% of their shots inside the paint where they have hit 59%. Going up against a defense that has allowed team to hit 55% inside the paint, you can expect Kansas’ interior numbers to go up after this game.
Weakness: Three-Point Inconsistency
One of the reasons for Kansas’ recent offensive fluctuation has been the three-point consistency. Much like the Jayhawks’ offensive pattern, there is too a pattern for their three-point shooting. In that Jayhawks last five games, from Iowa State to Texas Tech, Kansas has hit 13 of 25, 11 of 18, 2 of 11, 6 of 19 and 9 of 18 from the three-point line respectively. The bad thing is that while the percentages changes, the amount of shots taken doesn’t, which is about 18 per game.
Trending Up: Depth
The Kansas depth hasn’t served that significant of role for most of the season, though lately they have really impressed. In the game against Texas Tech, the Kansas bench contributed 43% of the points scored with G Rio Adams leading the way with 11 points. F Perry Ellis (4.9 PPG-3.6 RPG) has been the most prominent player of the bench as of late, averaging 8 points and 4.8 rebounds in his last six games. If the starting five for Kansas gets into foul trouble quickly, they can now rest easy knowing that their backups are somewhat reliable now.
Trending Down: Perimeter Defense
This recent trend is worrisome for Kansas, especially knowing that have to face one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country. In the Jayhawks last five games, Kansas has allowed teams to hit 35% outside the arc, a 4% increase of their season average. While 35% may not seem that bad, but when your playing Iowa State it is. In that span Kansas forced teams to take half of their shots outside the arc, and when Iowa State takes half of their shots from three-point land, they are going to have a field day.
History should tell us that this is going to be a good game, and since little has changed between both teams, it likely will be. The most important, and obivious, key for Kansas would be to guard the three as best they can. For Iowa State, it would be to stop Kansas from scoring inside the paint, which has been nearly impossible this season. The chance for a higher seed and revenge will be the fuel for Iowa State’s flame as they try to get their first win against Kansas this season.