Kansas will travel to Ames, Iowa for a matchup with the Cyclones (14-6, 4-3) on Saturday. The Jayhawks (17-3, 7-0) will look to extend their 10-game winning streak and keep an undefeated Big 12 record in tact. When the two teams last met in Allen Fieldhouse on January 14, forward Royce White and the Cyclones gave the Jayhawks all they wanted. Kansas eventually went on to win the game 82-73, but it needed a 17-2 second-half run to do so.
Iowa State will be looking for revenge on its home court. A victory against the Jayhawks would go a long way for the Cyclones’ tournament resume. It would also snap a streak of 14 straight losses at the hands of Kansas. The last time Iowa State beat Kansas was in 2005.
The Cyclones will need another big effort from Royce White, who leads the team in PPG (13.4), rebounds per game (9.6), assists per game (4.5), and blocks. In the last matchup against KU, the Jayhawks “held” White to 18 points and 17 boards. Hoiberg and the Cyclones will call on White to bring his best effort against a Kansas team that struggled to match up with him last game.
Matchup of the game:
Royce White and anyone who is guarding Royce White.
I think you’ll see everyone from Withey to Releford take a turn guarding White. He is a difficult matchup for a team that primarily runs man-to-man defense, as the Jayhawks nearly always do. This is especially true when he brings the ball up the court. It will be interesting to see if Kansas throws any zone at him. Personally, I think Releford is KU’s best option to guard White. He is versatile enough to extend in the half court, and tall enough to hold his own if White starts to post up. Regardless, Withey and others will have to be ready to help. It will be a team effort.
Keys to the game for Kansas:
- Defend the 3-point line: In the last matchup, Iowa State chucked 28 three-pointers (and made 9). On the season, the Cyclones have been a decent three-point shooting team from deep. Kansas will have to keep the percentage of made threes low once again.
- Don’t let the rest of the team beat you. Royce White is one of those players that is probably going to get his points. Similar to a Beasley or a Durant, certain guys will end up finding a way to score on you one way or another. While we can’t let him score 30, I’d rather him get his 18 as long as we defend the heck out of everyone else. Wild cards are much more scary than the sure things. For some reason, Christopherson is the one guy that concerns me. I really like his game, and I hope our guards don’t overlook him.
- Control the tempo early. If Iowa State gets up early on, the crowd will be a huge factor. I was in Hilton last year, and it was a very loud building with a great crowd presence. If Kansas can hit shots and control the game from the outset, the crowd won’t be as big of a factor, and our team will remain in its comfort zone.
- Do a much better job of keeping Taylor out of the lane: Last game, Tyshawn killed Iowa State. He took over in that second half and got just about any look he wanted. The Cyclones will have to do a better job of team defense against Taylor. The tough part about that is that if Taylor gets that help D to slide over, he’s been so much better of late at dishing the ball to Withey or Robinson. Hoiberg will have to pick his poison.
- Create matchup problems: Let Royce White do whatever Royce White wants to do. If he wants to play point guard, let him bring it up. If he wants to bang on the blocks, then let him. He’ll control the game on offense either way. The Cyclones will look to put him into spots where he can take advantage of a matchup, depending on who is guarding him.
- Hit shots. This will nearly always be a key to the game for opposing teams of Kansas. Team defense is Self’s biggest advantage over most teams. That said, when opposing teams are hitting three-pointers, it can overcome a lot of other disadvantages on paper. Last time, ISU was 9-28 from three. They’ll have to improve on that number to win.
TV: ESPN, 1:00 CST
Line: KU -6.0
Prediction: I think the Jayhawks control this game. The Cyclones will have our attention from the beginning, and Self has had all week to prepare a good game plan. I predict Kansas 75, Iowa State 66.
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