Hilton will be maniacal as much as magical on Monday. Particularly with the Cyclones coming off their first defeat, at Oklahoma on Saturday, and looking to get righted.
The whole episode last year against Kansas, however, has to be channeled into the recesses to some extent.
“I hope not as hostile as last year,” the KU point guard said with a laugh, “because it got a little bit too out of control.”
Johnson angered Iowa State’s fans by dunking the ball on a meaningless final possession. That play, which led to objects being thrown on the court — combined with KU’s two other victories over ISU last year — should have the building in a frenzy again tonight.
It’s dangerous to read too much into one play, but the shot-clock violation and how excited (proud) it seemed to make the players could be a sign the newcomers are beginning to appreciate why their coach puts such a premium on that end of the floor.
KU can be an extremely dangerous team when it's making jumpshots. Though it might not have seemed like it, Kansas State's defense did a decent job of keeping the Jayhawks away from the rim; only 32 percent of KU's shots were layups/dunks according to Hoop-Math.com, which is much lower than the Jayhawks' season average of 47 percent. That didn't matter, though, because KU shot the heck out of it while reducing turnovers. KU made 43 percent of its 2-point jumpshots (35 percent season average) and 44 percent of its 3-pointers (35 percent season average) while also cashing in on 83 percent of its close shots (67 percent season average). It's not often a team shoots better than average in all three areas, so while the Jayhawks were running good offense, they also ran into a great shooting day at the perfect time: while playing their rival at home.
The fact that Selden and Wiggins are starting to feel more comfortable asserting themselves on the offensive end is really good news for point guard Naadir Tharpe. Early on, I think Tharpe felt the burden — real or imagined — of needing to be a scorer, but he's always been at his best as a facilitator. Never was that more evident than Saturday, when Tharpe dished nine dimes and had zero turnovers. That's 17 assists and 1 turnover in his last three games. Speaking of turnovers, how about the team going 23:16 without a turnover against a good defensive club? Very good sign for the young squad.
“He’s on people in the weight room,” said Weis, pressed for support to his claim. “He’s on people when we run sprints at the end of practice. If somebody is not running hard at the end of practice, you would think that one of the guys playing would be saying something. You’d hear Harwell chirping all the time, ‘Just shut the hell up and get going.’ And that’s when he wasn’t playing. Imagine when he is. I’m looking forward to it.”