There are regular season championships and then there are real championships. While Kansas and Iowa State have combined to win the last 13 regular season crowns, it is Iowa State that has earned the auto-bid into the NCAA tournament as Big 12 champions three out of the last four seasons.
If anything can help the Cyclones end their three game skid, it just might be playing inside the friendly confines of Allen Fieldhouse. After all, Iowa State has not lost there since 2016 and the Jayhawks have yet to win a conference home game this season.
Can Steve Prohm and his defending Big 12 champions eek by Bill Self’s struggling Jayhawks? We’ll find out Tuesday evening.
Last Time Out
All good things come to an end, including 10 game winning streaks against Oklahoma State. When the Cowboys and the Cyclones meet it is guaranteed to be a barn burner. This one was no different than in seasons past except Iowa State came out on the losing end of an overtime thriller.
How did it happen? Well, here is a summary of Iowa State down the stretch.
One could blame youth and it was certainly a factor at times, but Iowa State was unable to close the deal in overtime with four upperclassmen on the floor. ‘Nuff said.
The fourth place Jayhawks come in to this one having lost three out of their last four home games. Bill Self and the Jayhawk fans have seemingly lost their magic. Kansas, an Adidas school, will trot out their blue chip roster that has been assembled through hard work and persistence on the recruiting trail. They say money can’t happiness, but elite recruiting certainly can.
While several Jayhawks are used to defending themselves in front of a jury of their peers, it is their opponents that they have been defending extremely well this season. The Jayhawks enter the tussle ranked 29th in defensive efficiency. It should come as a complete surprise to no one that this blue blood program is one of the nation’s leaders in keeping opponents off the free throw line. This program has prided itself on avoiding foul calls on the defensive end.
Self has taken the reigns off the offense this season and allowed for over 40% of his team’s shots to come from long distance. His team has made him look like a stable genius after connecting on 41.6% of them.
Players to Watch
Devonte Graham is the straw that stirs the drink for the second best team in Kansas. Shocking, I know, but this player of the year candidate was once committed to Appalachian State. A coaching change allowed Self to swoosh in and the guard has been money ever since. The senior scores from everywhere on the court, connecting on 64 free throws and 49 three pointers already on this young season.
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk has traveled a long way to and inside of Lawerence. Although he doesn’t make trips to the free throw line that often, the senior is burning up the nets from long range at a 46.4% clip. I’m sure John Walters and Eric Heft will be happy to see this character laden star graduate after this season.
What to Expect
As an Iowa State fan shouldn’t you know already? This 8 PM tip probably means the second half will end after your bed time and there is no way you can possibly go to sleep after getting kicked in the groin. My advice? Take a nap after work and have the 2017 KU-ISU game ready to go on the DVR following the conclusion of this blood bath. We all could use a happy ending before bed time.
Kansas- 89 Iowa State- 71
- Lindell Wigginton and Zoran Talley score in double figures
- Kansas hits 15 three pointers
- Jeff Beverly plays less than seven minutes
Game Time: Tuesday, January 9th, 8 PM
Line (Per KenPom): Kansas (-17) O/U 157