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Monday, February 17, 2020

Game Day Breakdown - No. 3 Kansas vs. Iowa State

Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton (22) looks to pass the ball around Kansas guard Marcus Garrett (0) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton (22) looks to pass the ball around Kansas guard Marcus Garrett (0) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

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No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks (22-3 overall, 11-1 Big 12) vs. Iowa State (11-14 overall, 4-8 Big 12)

Time: 8 p.m. | Location: Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Kansas

TV: ESPN | Radio: IMG Jayhawk Radio Network

Log on to KUsports.com for our live game blog coverage and follow the KUsports.com staff on Twitter: @KUSports @mctait @bentonasmith @SJacksonLJW & @ByBradenShaw

Keys for Kansas

1. End it early

With five days between tonight's game against Iowa State and the next one — a monster matchup at Baylor on Saturday — the Jayhawks would do well to get some rest this week.

That’s particularly true for guards Devon Dotson, Marcus Garrett and Ochai Agbaji, who have been battling through nagging injuries for the past few weeks while also handling a heavy workload.

Because of the status of the current Iowa State roster, which is without injured guard Tyrese Haliburton for the rest of the season, the Jayhawks can actually get a jump on some of that rest, provided they take care of business early in this one.

There are no easy nights in the Big 12 Conference, but given the fact that the team KU just beat by 17 (Oklahoma) recently beat Iowa State by 29 points, there certainly is a chance that KU, a heavy favorite, could be in line for another runaway victory.

If that’s the case, and if KU builds a large lead by halftime, the second half of this one should, or at least could, feature Christian Braun, Tristan Enaruna and David McCormack playing big minutes.

That trio has averaged around 10 minutes apiece in recent outings and, in some cases, throughout most of the season. Doubling that against the Cyclones would send KU’s starters into their week of rest with a head start.

2. Azubuike gets aggressive

It’s hard to say that a player with 11 double-doubles on the season who is coming off a 15-point, 17-rebound effort a couple of days earlier needs to get more aggressive.

But Kansas coach Bill Self mentioned that about senior center Udoka Azubuike following Saturday’s win over Oklahoma.

Overall, Azubuike played great. He was active on the glass, went after the ball and blocked four shots while continuing to serve as a solid rim protector on defense.

But, on offense, the oftentimes automatic center shot just 6 of 12 from the field, well below his season and career averages, which typically hover around 70-75%.

Self said part of the reason Azubuike misfired on so many shots Saturday was because he hesitated a little. In this one, against a team without much of an answer for Azubuike’s size and strength, KU would love to see the big fella flush everything — or at least try.

“He missed some easy ones,” Self said after the win over Oklahoma. “I don’t know why he’s hesitating as much as he is now. He hesitated too much in the first half. I think he was trying too hard. His host family was all here, and they don’t get a chance to come watch him play much and I think he may have been pressing a little.”

Making matters worse for the Cyclones is the fact that KU leads the Big 12 in 2-point field goal percentage (50.8) and Iowa State ranks last in the Big 12 in 2-point defense.

3. More 3s, please

KU’s hot-shooting afternoon on Saturday tied for the most makes (11) from downtown in Big 12 play. And the Jayhawks’ 3-point percentage (50) against the Sooners was their second best showing of the Big 12 season.

The only time the Jayhawks shot better was back in January against Iowa State in Ames, Iowa, when they hit 52.6% from 3-point range.

The Cyclones rank last in the Big 12 in 3-point defense (37.2%) and KU, which has been searching for better and more consistent 3-point shooting throughout the season, could benefit from another hot day from the outside.

Marquee Matchup

Iowa State offense vs. KU junior Marcus Garrett

The Kansas junior is on some kind of run defensively. Well on his way to winning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, and likely to compete for that honor on the national level as well, Garrett’s reputation as a defensive menace is well known throughout the conference.

With that in mind, it will be interesting to see how Iowa State coach Steve Prohm attacks Garrett when the Cyclones have the ball.

Do they go right at him? Do they try to get him a couple of fouls, which has plagued Garrett from time to time this season? Or do they put Garrett’s man off the ball and stash him in the corner, like Oklahoma did on a couple of possessions in the second half, in hopes of taking Garrett out of the action altogether and playing 4-on-4 against the rest of the Kansas defense?

Regardless of what they try, Garrett is a smart enough and savvy enough player to plug himself into the play from anywhere on the floor. If his stretch of high-steal games continues, it’s hard to envision ISU getting comfortable in Allen Fieldhouse with its best ballhandler and playmaker on the bench in street clothes.

Jayhawk Pulse

KU enters tonight’s game still one game back of Baylor in the Big 12 race, with the matchup of the season looming.

The Jayhawks could put a little pressure on the Bears with a win tonight, which would pull them within a half game of Baylor ahead of the Bears’ matchup at Oklahoma on Tuesday night.

KU leads the all-time series with Iowa State 183-66. That record includes a 94-16 edge in games played in Lawrence, 53-10 inside Allen Fieldhouse.

KenPom.com, which ranks Iowa State No. 71 in the nation (and KU No. 1) has Kansas as a 17-point favorite in this one, with a win probability of 93%.

Probable Starters

No. 3 Kansas

G – Devon Dotson, 6-2, 185, Soph.

G – Ochai Agbaji, 6-5, 210, Soph.

G – Isaiah Moss, 6-5, 208, Sr.

G – Marcus Garrett, 6-5, 195, Jr.

C – Udoka Azubuike, 7-0, 265, Sr.

Iowa State

G – Tre Jackson, 6-1, 176, Fr.

G – Rasir Bolton, 6-3, 183, Soph.

G – Prentiss Nixon, 6-2, 188, Sr.

F – Michael Jacobson, 6-9, 240, Sr.

F – Solomon Young, 6-8, 242, RS-Jr.

Comments

Robert Brock 1 month, 2 weeks ago

No lead is safe when Enaruna is on the floor.

Bryce Landon 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I hope KU beats ISU by 40. I HATE Iowa State!!!!

Andy Godwin 1 month, 2 weeks ago

KU better not overlook ISU. With the Baylor game looming, this is when a team can potentially look ahead and lay a stinker. ISU just demolished Texas by 29 points, a team KU trailed at the half both in Austin and Lawrence. So stay focused, including the sports writers, on tonight’s game, because if KU does not take care of business against ISU then the race for the Big 12 title might be over.

Michael Maris 1 month, 2 weeks ago

@ Andy,

That's a great point. Never look past the immediate opponent. ISU will certainly not be looking past Kansas to their next opponent. Auburn's game against Missouri is a great example.

Don Perry 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Can't play the comparison score game. UT was missing two players including Jericho Sims.

Eric Dawson 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Baylor at OU is Tuesday night, not Wednesday. 8PM CT on ESPN2.

Dane Pratt 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I don't know how much pressure a win tonight will put on Baylor but I think they'll handle Oklahoma. It would be kind of cool if we went into Waco tied with the Bears. That would make for a winner take all game.

Kevin Boone 1 month, 2 weeks ago

As good as Baylor is this year, and even with how they outplayed us at both ends of the court at the Fieldhouse, I still have a good feeling about Saturday's game in Waco. Not sure where that confidence is coming from, because I'm always nervous for KU's big games, but this feels different. I think KU has something to prove this time, which doesn't happen a lot. I really think we'll see the best all around play of the season from the Jayhawks on Saturday. Should be a great game!

Dane Pratt 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Funny thing is, we can lose the conference and still get a number 1 seed.

Micky Baker 1 month, 2 weeks ago

KU shouldn't overlook Iowa State, but should come out with intensity that Iowa State cannot match and just overwhelm the first half. Destroy Iowa State's morale early and often. It's not just showing up. Defense, strong to the hole, and good passing. I will be disappointed if we don't just destroy them early and often. This is not one to have to look back on and say, "If only we had just focused that night".

W Keith Swinehart II 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Hmm. Everyone is focused on Baylor game Saturday. I hope the players are smarter.

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