NO. 5 KANSAS (17-3, 7-0 Big 12) AT IOWA STATE (14-6, 4-3 Big 12)
Time/TV: 2 p.m. ET (1 p.m. local)/ESPN
Location: James H. Hilton Coliseum
Kansas 7 (No. 2 Big 12)
Iowa State 58 (No. 5 Big 12)
Line: Kansas +7 (141 o/u)
Kansas Players to Watch: F Thomas Robinson, 6-10 Jr. (17.8 ppg, 12 rpg, 53.5% FG); G Tyshawn Taylor, 6-3 Sr. (16.6 ppg, 5 apg, 45.7% 3s); G Travis Releford, 6-6 Jr. (9.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 51.5% FG). Robinson is second in the nation and first in the Big 12 in rebounding. He’s also second in the Big 12 in scoring behind Texas’s J’Covan Brown. He’s third in field goal percentage, 15th in steals (1.2) and ninth in block shots (1.2) in the Big 12.
Iowa State Players to Watch: F Royce White, 6-8 So. (13.4 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 4.5 apg); G Scott Christopherson, 6-3 Sr. (10.7 ppg, 2 apg, 40.7% 3s); G Tyrus McGee, 6-2 Jr. (9.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 45.1% 3s). White ranks 12th in scoring, second in rebounding, fourth in field goal percentage (53.5 percent), sixth in assists, 15th in steals (1.2), 11th in blocked shots (1.15) and 10th in assist-to-turnover ratio (4.5-3.8) in the Big 12.
Storylines: At 7-0 in the Big 12, Kansas has a 2-game lead in pursuit of their ninth consecutive conference championship. The Jayhawks have won 10 straight. Iowa State is tied for fourth, three games behind Kansas at 4-3.
Keys: Kansas beat the Cyclones for the 13th straight time, 82-73 at home on Jan. 14. In the loss, Iowa State led 43-40 at halftime and 52-40 after scoring the first nine points of the second half. Taylor led a comeback, which featured a 17-2 run, with 22 of his game-high 28 points in the second half. Iowa State out-rebounded Kansas 46-36, despite Robinson’s 14 for his 11th double-double of the season. The Jayhawks turned over the Cyclones 16 times, including four steals from Releford. Jeff Withey, the Big 12’s leading shot blocker, had seven blocks in the win. Kansas leads the Big 12 in rebounding margin at 7.3 per game (Iowa State is plus-3.9) and is first in field goal defense, holding opponents to 37.2 percent. The Jayhawks have led the Big 12 in field goal defense in five of the past six seasons. Iowa State scores 74.3 points per game and gives up 66.6. The Cyclones lead the Big 12 by making 8.9 3-pointers per game, which ranks 10th in the nation. Five different Jayhawks – Robinson, Taylor, Releford, Elijah Johnson and Conner Teahan – have led the team in scoring at least one time this year. With a win, Iowa State would tie its best Big 12 start since 2000-01. Kansas leads the all-time series 171-58, including 66-36 at Ames. The Cyclones’ last win over Kansas was Feb. 19, 2005. The Jayhawks are 4-0 in true road games but they are only 6-3 away from Allen Fieldhouse. Iowa State is 10-2 in home game with losses coming to Northern Iowa (69-62 on Nov. 30) and then-No. 9 Missouri (76-69 on Jan. 11). The game is sold out. It is the second sellout of the season for Iowa State.
The Bottom Line: Iowa State is better than many may think. Robinson’s going to be a tough cover, but unless he goes crazy (which he’s clearly capable of doing), expect the Cyclones to pull off a minor upset.
The Pick: Iowa State 74, Kansas 71