Kansas attempts to rebound from their second headscratching loss in two weeks with a trip to Ames, which has been a bit of a house of horrors lately for the Jayhawks.
Iowa State, however, hasn’t had its best team in recent memory this year, sporting just a 4-8 record in conference, although three of those wins come against three of the top four teams in the league.
Offensively, Iowa State is unrecognizable from what we thought of them during the Hoiberg years. They take just 32 percent of their shots from deep, which ranks 9th in the Big 12, although they’re shooting 37 percent on threes so they should perhaps take a few more. Perhaps the best news for the Jayhawks is the Cyclones rank last in the league at getting to the free throw line, which should keep Udoka Azubuike on the floor.
Defensively, Iowa State ranks 8th in the league, giving up 1.12 points per possession in conference play. They also haven’t allowed a team under 1 PPP since non conference play. Most notably for the Jayhawks, they allow a ton of 3-point attempts, and the Jayhawks actually took more threes than twos in the teams’ first meeting. Even with Kansas slowing down a bit in that department, Iowa State won’t want to see them attempting too many from deep tonight.
Players to Watch
Lindell Wigginton, 6-2 freshman guard
The Nova Scotia native will no doubt be buoyed by Canada’s gold medals in men’s moguls and mixed doubles curling, as well as surprise bronzes in luge and short track speed skating. He’s also been good at basketball as of late, scoring in double figures in the team’s last four games. He’s woefully inefficient inside the arc, but it shooting 43 percent from three this season and Kansas gives up a lot of open looks.
Donovan Jackson, 6-2 senior guard
The Wisconsinite might be reeling from a disappointing mixed doubles curling performance from fellow Wisconsin natives Matt and Becca Hamilton, but he’s loved to play against the Jayhawks, scoring in double figures in each of their last two meetings. For the season he’s shooting 42 percent from deep and leads the Big 12 in free throw percentage in conference games.
Cameron Lard, 6-9 freshman forward
Lard has seen his playing time seadily rise over the course of the season, and he’s made the most of it. He ranks 5th in the league in effective field goal percentage, 4th in block percentage, and first in offensive rebounding. He had a double double in the first meeting, and will no doubt be fuled by the fury that resulted from Louisiana not having any members of the 2018 winter olympic team.
Keys to the Game
- Fouls - Kansas could stand to get a couple fouls on Lard, who averages 4.6 per 40 minutes, and obviously needs to keep Azubuike on the floor as much as possible.
- Threes - Iowa State probably wont take a ton, but if they do it will go a long way towards their odds of pulling an upset.
- My attention span - Given how not fun this team is to watch right now, and that the winter olympics are on, this game will probably be relegated to the smaller screen.
I am admittedly struggling in the prediction game. I have no idea. Iowa State is theoretically a good matchup for Kansas, but in a lot of ways Baylor was too. Same with Oklahoma State. I think Kansas will come out in gut check mode and that will propel them to a win that won’t be very fun to watch. I’ll say 78-73.