This is it. The last leg of the journey. If Kansas can get the win in Ames, then the Jayhawks will likely win their ninth straight. That of course is no easy task in Hilton Coliseum, in fact it could prove to be just as difficult as last Wednesday's game in Stillwater. The Jayhawks have trailed at some point during each of the last three meetings with Iowa State including last matchup when Kansas needed a last second three pointer to send the game to overtime. Iowa State looks to avenge the close loss in Lawrence by beating Kansas for the 2nd time in a row at home, a place where they haven' lost in this season. Iowa State's powerful offense goes head to head against an impressive Kansas defense while the Jayhawks look to get their recently offense on track against a weaker Iowa State defensive team in a game which should provide us with a game worthy of the late season implications at stake. Iowa State is a very challenging matchup for Kansas, we saw that in Lawrence, now the Jayhawks have to find a way to get the win on the road in order to keep things moving in the right direction.
When: Monday, February 25, 9:00 PM ET
Where: James H. Hilton Coliseum
No injuries to report.
The Iowa State backcourt may not not have the star power or skill level of other Big 12 backcourts, but they sure can score. G Will Clyburn (14.9 PPG-7.3 RPG), G Tryus McGee (13.1 PPG-3.6 RPG), G Korie Lucious (9.7 PPG-5.8 APG) and G Chris Babb (9.6 PPG-3.2 RPG) contribute 59% of the Cyclones' scoring which ranks 5th in the nation. In Iowa States' last five games, these guards have shot a combined 46% from the field, 47% inside the paint, 45% outside the paint and 42% from three. In that span they took just 31% of their shots inside the paint and 69% outside the paint. Kansas must keep McGee from getting hot from long range, as he currently averages 45% from beyond the arc.
Weakness: Interior Defense
With such a small lineup for a guard orientated team whose main focus is on the offensive end, it is understandable why they aren't great defensively. In the course of the Cyclone's last five games, Iowa State has allowed teams to shoot 47% from the field and 65% in the paint. Over that span those teams took only 41% of their shots from outside, so Kansas must make it a priority to get the ball inside the paint as much as possible, something they focus on nearly every game.
No Injuries to Report
Strength: Interior Offense
Kansas as operated from the paint most of this year, taking 58% of their shots from inside where they have hit 54%. The last time Kansas played Iowa State the Jayhawks took 58% of their shots in the paint converting 50% of the time. C Jeff Withey (13.6 PPG-8.5 RPG-4 BPG) has been the most dominant player inside for the Jayhawks and has a heightened chance to be the Jayahwks highest scorer in this game as he will likely have the opportunity to take advantage of the Cyclone's smaller interior defense.
Weakness: Outside Shooting
If Kansas is going to win this game, then need to avoid falling in the love the with outside jumper. In the Jayhawks last five games, Kansas has taken 40% of their shots outside where they have hit only 32%. In Iowa State's last five games, the Cyclones have forced teams to take 59% of their shots outside where they have hit only 34%. It is a no brainer where the Jayhawks should be looking for their offense.
Trending Up: Perimeter Defense
This is a very important stat for the Jayhawks as most of Iowa State's offense is conducted from outside. In the Jayhawks last five games, Kansas has allowed teams to shoot just 31% outside the paint and only 26% from three. In that span Kansas has sealed off the interior, allowing only 39% of the opponent shots to be taken in the paint with 69% coming from the outside. Of course, this could backfire since Iowa State has the ability to get hot similar to what Oklahoma did at the tail end of the Jayhawks three game losing streak.
Trending Down: G Ben McLemore
I thought i'd ever have to say this, but G Ben McLemore (16.2 PPG-5.4 RPG) has been playing below his level lately. In McLemore's last three games he has averaged just 11.3 PPG and has made only 5 of his last 14 3-pointers. Kansas cannot afford to have McLemore struggle in this one, of course they did somehow find a way to battle through that in Stillwater.
This is the Jayhawks' last big game on their schedule unless you count Baylor which certainly won't be a gimme. The way the rest of the Schedule plays out, K-State and Oklahoma State have a harder path than Kansas does from this point forward. But the Jayhawks have to take care of business in Ames or they will need some help. These two teams are very different from eachother offensively and defensively and this game should be a middle of the line scoring game. Scoring is likely to drift higher than any of Kansas' road games this year. Kansas shoots well inside so this game will be no different, what the deciding factor will be is how well Iowa State can shoot the three. Iowa State lives and dies by the three and this game should be no different. The matchup is a tricky one, the Cyclones can extend the Kansas defense. It will be interesting to see how Bill Self counters that.