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A Brief Iowa State Preview

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas attempts to avenge its lone loss of the conference season when it hosts Iowa State tonight. The game figures to be a little closer given two factors: first, Kansas is at Allen Fieldhouse, and second, the Jayhawks figure to play their best players for most of the game this time.

The Cyclones have been a tale of two teams this conference season: Offensively no one has been better, with Iowa State leading the league in points per possession (1.11), turnover percentage (15.6 percent), and two point shooting (54.8 percent). It's worth noting the Jayhawks currently rank second in the Big 12 defensively, allowing .95 points per possession, and lead the league in 2 point defense, allowing teams to shoot just 38.8 percent inside the arc. In the previous meeting Iowa State's offense carried the day, scoring 1.07 points per possession and shooting 53.7 percent on twos, though again I think personnel had a lot to do with that.

If the Jayhawks can force Iowa State to miss (a tall order) they have a pretty good chance of grabbing a rebound, and any turnovers the Jayhawks do force will be an added bonus both defensively and offensively.

Not that the Jayhawks figure to need much help on offense against Iowa State. Kansas has been a bit up and down offensively this year, but they still rank second in the Big 12, while the Cyclones are 9th in the Big 12 defensively. Even with the addition of Jameel McKay, Iowa State allows 1.06 points per possession in league play, though it is worth noting some of that is due to three point luck, with the Cyclones allowing opponents to shoot 36.9 percent beyond the arc. More pertinent to the Jayhawks, Iowa State allows teams to shoot 44.3 percent from two, good for 4th in the conference. Kansas shot just 44.2 percent on twos and had 13.5 of their shots blocked in the previous meeting, so naturally they need to get better in those areas in order to win tonight.

Individually, the Cyclones have the top two players in Big 12 play in offensive rating in Monte Morris and Dustin Hogue. Hogue also leads the conference in effective field goal percentage.

Perhaps the two biggest keys, though, will be simply getting back on defense to limit Iowa State in transition, and to get Jameel McKay off the floor. While McKay is just ok offensively, he is the third best shot blocker in Big 12 play so far, and Iowa State's only rim protection whatsoever. Taking him off the floor will mean a lot of open looks down low for Kansas big men, and will also mean easier looks from Frank Mason when he inevitably gets into the lane.

A couple threes by a walkon extended my losing streak to three, and I now sit at 12-8-1 ATS. Pretty soon I'm going to stop giving out my record. The Jayhawks are favored by 7.5 over the Cyclones, and even though the Jayhawks are generally good in revenge games and Perry Ellis and Cliff Alexander should play a lot more, I will take the Cyclones to cover. I still think the Jayhawks squeak out a win though, 77-74.