With Billy Preston and Silvio De Sousa still not cleared but potentially on the way, Kansas playing two of the three worst teams in the league at home couldn’t have come at a better time.
Iowa State doesn’t have a conference win yet, although they have been to overtime twice. Offensively they’ve struggled in a way we haven’t seen Iowa State struggle in quite some time, scoring under 1.02 points per possession in conference. It’s been bad across the board for them, with them shooting under 30 percent from three and roughly 45 percent on twos. Most fortunately for Kansas, they’re only roughly average on the offensive glass. Given the Jayhawks’ recent uptick in first shot defense, that bodes well for Kansas.
Defensively, Iowa State is up to their old tricks a bit. They rank 8th defensively, give up more threes than anyone in the league, and don’t defend inside the arc or force a lot of turnovers. Anything can happen in a small sample, but anything less than a boatload of points would be a disappointment.
Players to Watch
Nick Babb, 6-5 junior guard
Babb has played in roughly as many minutes as Devonte Graham this year, and while he isn’t the same scorer, he’s got a 35.6 assist rate (roughly equal to Graham) and has been good on the defensive glass as well.
Lindell Wigginton, 6-2 freshman guard
Wigginton leads the team in usage, and the Canadian has been impressive with shouldering that load, shooting around 44 percent on twos and 40 percent from three. Obviously with those shooting numbers Kansas will want to run him off the arc as much as possible.
Donovan Jackson, 6-2 senior guard
Jackson fills both the leadership and shooting roles for the Cyclones, as he is shooting 43.5 percent from deep. He doesn’t do anything else of note, but those guys do admittedly have a history of getting hot against Kansas.
Keys to the Game
- Rebounding - Iowa State doesn’t hit the glass much, and isn’t a great shooting team. Assuming Kansas’s first shot defense is at the level it was against TCU, Kansas could fix their defensive numbers (a bit) tonight.
- Threes - bombing it from deep will really be ISU’s only chance. On the flipside, Kansas is going to get to attempt a lot of threes if they want them.
It’s tough to feel too confident with KU’s depth issues, but Iowa State has about as much depth as Kansas does without having the top end talent the Jayhawks do. Couple that with their lack of offensive rebounding and the number of threes they give up and I think this is as easy of a game as you could hope for in a league as tough as the Big 12. Kansas 85-73.