No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks (20-2 overall, 8-1 Big 12) vs. Iowa State Cyclones (13-8 overall, 5-4 Big 12)
Time: 1 p.m. | Location: Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Kansas
TV: ESPN | Radio: IMG Jayhawk Radio Network
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1. Cut down the turnovers
In the first meeting with Iowa State, a 76-72 Kansas victory in Ames, Iowa, in January, Iowa State stayed in the game by forcing 11 first-half KU turnovers.
Senior point guard Monte' Morris wreaked havoc on the game in the first 20 minutes, picking the Jayhawks’ pockets and getting deflections that led to easy buckets in transition.
Landen Lucas and Josh Jackson each coughed it up four times and Frank Mason III and Lagerald Vick gave it away three times apiece.
KU tightened things up in the second half and finished with 18 turnovers, but there’s no doubt that ball security was talked about plenty during the past couple of days as the Jayhawks prepared for the rematch with the perimeter-oriented Cyclones.
2. Hit the boards
Iowa State has been out-rebounded by opponents, 818-797, so far this season and takes a -1 rebounding margin average into its meeting with Kansas, which has out-rebounded opponents, 877-760.
The Jayhawks are second in the Big 12 in rebounding margin at +5.3 per game and Iowa State ranks dead last.
But the ISU rebounding numbers get much, much worse when looking just at Big 12 play. ISU has been out-rebounded by Big 12 foes in every game so far this season and is -85 in total rebounds during the first nine games of Big 12 play.
That number includes a 41-24 advantage by the Jayhawks in their win in Ames in mid-January and rebounding should be a key factor in the rematch at Allen Fieldhouse.
Not only did the Jayhawks out-rebound the Cyclones by 17 — including grabbing 14 offensive rebounds — but they also outscored ISU 52-28 in points in the paint as a result.
3. Make Burton miserable
In the first meeting with the Jayhawks, Iowa State forward Deonte Burton, who seems to prefer to play more like a guard, scored 21 points but needed 21 shots to get them.
The Jayhawks will take that in this match-up, as the 6-foot-5, 250-pound Burton went 9-of-21 from the floor and just 1-of-6 from 3-point range.
There were a couple of times, particularly early, when the Cyclones ran pick-and-roll to get Burton isolated on Mason or Devonte’ Graham. When that happen, Burton backed the smaller Jayhawks down on his way to the paint
While Morris is the player that makes the ISU offense go and Naz Long and Matt Thomas provide scoring punch, frustrating Burton seems to be the best recipe for success against ISU.
Burton leads the Cyclones in rebounding at 6.8 per game and also averages 13.5 points per game, while leading ISU in blocks (30) and steals (36), as well.
Landen Lucas vs. Bueller, Bueller, Bueller...
It sure seems like Landen Lucas could be in for another big game against the Cyclones. After making 7 of 9 shots for 14 points and 6 rebounds in the first meeting, Lucas is poised for even bigger numbers in this one.
The reason? Iowa State has struggled all year to find consistent play from anyone inside and has had to be creative with the way it defends the post. Even though Lucas is not the prototypical, back-to-the-basket type of scorer who the Jayhawks run their offense through, they tossed it over the top of the defense and into Lucas plenty of times in Ames and likely will look to do it again.
Suspended forward Carlton Bragg Jr., had one of his best games of the season in KU’s first meeting with the Cyclones, finishing with 10 points and 6 rebounds on 5-of-9 shooting in 15 minutes. If Bragg is out for the third game in a row, that just leaves more production on the table for Lucas against whomever ISU tries to throw at him, which, at times has seemed to resemble that classroom roll call scene from the movie "Ferris Bueller’s Day Off."
Off-the-court news continues to surround the Kansas men’s basketball program, but the Jayhawks have shown no signs of the distractions impacting their play on the court.
In the last week alone, KU picked up wins at No. 4 Kentucky and at home against No. 2 Baylor and played at an extremely high level in both victories.
With Kansas now in the driver’s seat for a 13th consecutive Big 12 regular-season title, the Jayhawks enter the second half of Big 12 play needing just to maintain pace to deliver the title.
Baylor sits one game back of Kansas, at 7-2 in Big 12 play, and West Virginia is two games back at 6-3. With everyone else at least three games back of Kansas, with nine to play, the Jayhawks have positioned themselves well for the second half of the Big 12 season.
Five of KU’s nine remaining regular season games are on the road, which makes winning at home absolutely critical in KU’s quest to keep its streak alive.
That’s not to say it will be easy. KU’s five Big 12 home victories so far this season have come by an average of just 8.6 points per win, including a two-point win over K-State, a seven-point win over Oklahoma State and Wednesday’s five-point win over Baylor.
No. 3 Kansas
G – Frank Mason III, 5-11, 190, Sr.
G – Devonte’ Graham, 6-2, 185, Jr.
G – Josh Jackson, 6-8, 207, Fr.
G – Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, 6-8, 205, Jr.
F – Landen Lucas, 6-10, 250, Sr.
G – Monte' Morris, 6-3, 175, Sr.
G – Matt Thomas, 6-5, 193, Sr.
G – Naz Long, 6-4, 203, Sr.
F – Deonte Burton, 6-5, 250, Sr.
F – Darrell Bowie, 6-8, 218, Sr.