Iowa State will face it’s biggest test of the season as the 5th ranked Kansas Jayhawks come into Ames for a tough early Big 12 matchup for both teams. We’re about to really find out what our Cyclone basketball team is made of, and what a better way to do that against the Big 12’s best team.
Last Time Out
Iowa State overcame its worst shooting percentage of the season (36%) to earn a big road win at Oklahoma State to open Big 12 Conference play. Four Cyclones were in double figures led by 17 each from Wigginton and Shayok. Tyrese Haliburton hit 4-of-6 3-pointers and finished with 12 points, while Nick Weiler-Babb had 15 points in a gutty 69-83 win in Stillwater.
Kansas enters the game as the 5th ranked team in the country and they improved to 12-1 (1-0 Big 12) on the season after defeating Oklahoma, 70-63 on Wednesday. Kansas used a 15-0 1st half run to help take a 40-25 halftime lead and had no trouble pulling away for the victory after taking a 62-50 late in the game. Kansas shot 41.3% from the field and forced Oklahoma into committing 17 turnovers in the victory. Leading the way for the Jayhawks was Dedric Lawson who had a double-double with 13 points, 15 rebounds, 3 blocks, and an assist.
On the season, Kansas is averaging 80.8 points a game on 48.1% shooting from the field. The Jayhawks are averaging just under 7 three-pointers per game on 34.4% shooting from beyond the arc. Defensively, Kansas is allowing their opponents to average 69.3 points per game on 39.6% shooting from the field. The Jayhawks have a rebound margin of 3.6 and a turnover margin of 2.0. Kansas is one of the top teams in the country, as they have multiple go-to players in Lawson, Vick, Azubuike, and Dotson while also ranking 53rd in scoring offense, 48th in FG%, and 48th in defensive FG%.
Opponent’s Players To Watch
I am going with two Kansas players to keep our eyes on in this game, Dedric Lawson and Udoka Azubuike. Iowa State has shown this and last season to struggle against teams that have a great post presence, and the duo of Lawson and Azubuike pose just that threat.
Dedric Lawson is a serious threat in scoring and on the boards. This season, Lawson is averaging just over 19 points a game to go with his 11 boards. Earlier this season, Tyler Cook of Iowa was able to have his way down low against the Cyclones bigs, and Lawson will be looking to do the same. With the addition of Solomon Young to the rotation to provide some depth and strength in the post, Steve Prohm will be able to toss a lot of bodies at Lawson.
Udoka Azuibke returned to the Kansas lineup a few game ago after being out with an injury earlier in the season. The junior center is averaging 13 points per game as well as 7 boards. Last year in Ames, Azuibke had one of his best games of the season, scoring 19 points on 9-10 shooting from the floor.
If Iowa State is going to have any chance in this game, they are going to have to find ways to limit the effectiveness of Dedric Lawson and Udoka Azubuike in the paint.
What Is Going To Happen
I think finally after we struggled our way through last season, Iowa State finally has all the horses to compete with the likes of Kansas on any given night. Thankfully, on this night the game will be played right in our back yard of Hilton Coliseum. This just has the feeling of the game Iowa State announces they are back to contend while getting everyone to buy in at the same time.
As I said earlier, the Cyclones are going to have their work cut out for them down low and they will have to find ways to slow down the Kansas big men. If they can do that and not shoot as poorly as they did on Wednesday night, they are going to have a great chance in this one.
Cyclones come out swinging and they knock down big shots, but Kansas will keep it close. Doesn’t matter. Clones take this one.
Iowa State-82 Kansas-79
1- Tyrese Haliburton makes four three pointers
2- Cameron Lard surprises everyone, finishes the game with only three fouls
3- Marial Shayok will not shoot 4-11 from the floor in this one
The Matchup: Iowa State (11-2, 1-0 Big 12) vs. No. 5 Kansas (12-1, 1-0 Big 12)
Where: Ames, Iowa - Hilton Coliseum (14,384)
When: Saturday, Jan. 5, 4 p.m. (CST)
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network/TuneIn Radio Talent: John Walters (PxP), Eric Heft (Analyst)
TV: ESPN2 Talent: Mark Neely (PxP), Fran Fraschilla (Analyst)
Sirius/XM/Internet: 84*/287/978 (internet) KU Broadcast
Live Stats: Cyclonestats.com