Welcome! This is my first post as a contributor on Rock Chalk Talk, and the first edition of potentially a series of posts with the purpose of finding and sharing interesting stats about KU basketball, but primarily previewing upcoming opponents from a statistical perspective. Most of the time I'll be talking about basic stats with occasional advanced statistics thrown in, but if there are any questions about certain statistics or what they mean, please let me know in the comments. For today's post, however, it's mostly all basic stats.
Basic Team Stats & KU/ISU Round 1
The turnover battle is definitely something to watch in this one, as it could have been costly for KU last game if Iowa State had made their threes. KU ranks 288th in limiting turnovers at 13.9 per game, while Iowa State ranks 24th in the nation at just 10.4 turnovers per game. In the first matchup, which KU won 77-70, Iowa State won the turnover battle 24 to 8. The main culprits last time included Joel Embiid (7 turnovers), Andrew Wiggins (6 turnovers), and Naadir Tharpe (4 turnovers). For the season, Iowa State's rotation player with the highest turnover % is DeAndre Kane, at 17.5%. To highlight how much better they are at taking care of the ball, Kane's team-worst TOV% would be KU's 7th worst among rotation players, as Tharpe, Traylor, Embiid, Greene, Black, and Selden all turn the ball over at a higher rate.
In terms of shooting three-pointers, Iowa State is often thought of by some as a sharpshooting team. However, they actually shoot a lower percentage of threes (barely) than Kansas. KU is 134th in the nation at 35.4% on threes, while Iowa State is 148th in the nation at 35.0%. The difference? Iowa State lets it fly at a much higher frequency, shooting 25 threes a game, compared to KU's 15 threes a game. During the last meeting, KU shot 5/16 from deep and the Cyclones shot 4-25.
This would indicate, at first glance, Kansas might have gotten a bit lucky last game. The Jayhawks did not do a good job of forcing turnovers, turned the ball over themselves, and Iowa State simply didn't make their shots.
In terms of getting to the rim and drawing fouls, Iowa State is better than one might expect given how often they shoot long bombs, ranking 88th in the nation at 24.7 free throw attempts per game, compared to Kansas ranking 24th in the nation at 28.1 attempts per game. In the last game, Iowa State won the foul battle 26 to 17 and the free throw battle 34 to 19. Coincidentally, the famous Elijah/angry Cyclone fan game Iowa State also won the foul battle there, despite shooting 41 (!!!) three pointers. So weird, given how much the refs hate their team and love Kansas, according to many Iowa State fans (*insert BOOOOOOOOOOOO*).
According to Kenpom, Iowa State has the 26h best offensive efficiency in the nation, and the 20th best defensive efficiency. Kenpom ranks them 20th overall.
There's not a ton of absolute deadeye shooters on the Cyclones team, but you need to at least respect everyone's shot. This makes for a fairly effective offense despite not having fantastic shooters. Iowa State coach Hoiberg has an NBA background, and understands the potential for this style of play, if you can get the right players.
The best shooter in terms of three point percentage is Naz Long (#15). He only shoots 5.5 shots a game, but 4.5 of them are threes, and he shoots 42.0% on those. 31 of his 34 made three pointers have been assisted, so KU probably doesn't need to worry about him pulling up. Just don't lose him, rotate, and contest the shot.
Monte Morris (#11) has the next highest percentage, but he only shoots 1.9 of them a game. Don't lose him either and you should be fine. Melvin Ejim (#3) is probably the second best player on the team, and is capable of shooting also at 34.9% 3PT. The good news is that the player on the team that is most important to them stretching the floor, Georges Niang (#31) shoots 4.2 threes a game while converting only 32.0% of them.
However, anyone that has watched Iowa State at all probably knows that you need to try and limit the damage DeAndre Kane (#50) does, and the statistics don't disagree. Kane posts an incredibly versatile 16.8 points on a 53.3 eFG% with 7.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists with 3.1 turnovers per game, which is not bad at all considering how much he has the ball. Kane can shoot respectably at 34.8% from deep, but KU will need to stop him from getting into the paint and scoring at the rim. Via Hoop-Math.com, Kane shoots 70.0% at the rim for 41.0% of his shots. Other players shoot well at the rim, including Ejim, but Kane gets to the rim all on his own. Only 42.9% of his shots at the rim are assisted, meaning he is doing the damage by himself, often in the pick and rolls or off straight one-on-one drives. Kane is also the only Cyclone on the team that is not assisted on a large percentage of his three-pointers, meaning he can and does create 3-point shots for himself. In the first game, Kane had 21 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 turnovers, and 4 steals. Kansas also got a bit fortunate that he shot just 8 for 16 from the charity stripe, but he's not a great free throw shooter at 63.7%. So, if he gets to the rim, and Joel Embiid isn't back there to contest or block the shot, it is not at all a bad idea to foul.
So there you have it. This was my first attempt at a preview such as this, and my first post as a contributor to the site. These will get better over time, and I already have a few ideas for future posts. Let me know what you think, how I can improve, if it sucked, etc.