Will KU limit turnovers against a passive Iowa State D?


Kansas guard Travis Releford wrestles with Iowa State forward Georges Niang during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Travis Releford wrestles with Iowa State forward Georges Niang during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Team: Iowa State
Record: 19-8
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 35
All statistics from unless otherwise noted

3 Strengths

Three-point shooting: Iowa State jacks up a lot of threes (42.4 percent of shots are threes, 16th-highest split nationally), which makes its 37-percent accuracy from long range even more impressive (45th nationally). ISU gets 36.3 percent of its points from three-pointers, which is the 15th-highest split nationally. Thanks mostly to their outside shooting, the Cyclones have the Big 12's most efficient offense during conference play, notching 1.13 points per possession.

Ball security: Iowa State rarely turns it over, giving it away on just 17.5 percent of its possessions during Big 12 play (second in conference). This matches up with a KU defensive weakness, as the Jayhawks are sixth in the Big 12 in defensive turnover percentage. In the first game, KU pulled out a 97-89 victory in overtime despite forcing just 11 ISU turnovers in 45 minutes.

• Foul avoidance: Iowa State has the third-best defensive free throw rate in Big 12 play, with league foes averaging 19.7 free throw attempts against the quick-paced Cyclones. KU, meanwhile, has posted the second-best offensive free throw rate during conference play while averaging 24.2 free throws per game. Don't expect KU to get the favorable whistle it had in the first matchup at Allen Fieldhouse, as the Jayhawks shot a season-high 38 free throws in that game.

3 Weaknesses

Forcing turnovers: Iowa State plays passive defensively, creating turnovers on just 18.1 percent of its Big 12 possessions (ninth in conference). The Cyclones also are last in the league in forcing steals, creating them on just 8.2 percent of their possessions. Pay close attention to this stat Monday night, as KU has struggled with giveaways in conference play (seventh in Big 12 in offensive turnover percentage). One wouldn't expect a high turnover total from KU against ISU because of the way the Cyclones play defense, but sometimes, crazy things happen when teams get sped up in hostile road environments.

• Getting to the free throw line: Iowa State relies almost exclusively on jumpshots to score points. Because of that, the Cyclones don't draw many fouls, as they rank ninth in the Big 12 in offensive free throw rate. ISU has averaged just 18.7 free throws per game during conference play.

Transition defense: According to, opponents are shooting 70 percent on their layups/tipins/dunks against Iowa State, which is the 15th-worst mark nationally. The Cyclones do a nice job of forcing teams into jumpshots in a half-court set (only 23 percent of opponents' shots come at the rim; NCAA average is 34 percent), but Iowa State still appears to be susceptible when its defense is not set.

Hoop-Math's numbers show that in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock, opponents have made 74 percent of their close shots after a defensive rebound, 71 percent of their close shots after an ISU make and 82 percent of their close shots after a steal. The opportunity might not come often, but KU should try to take advantage of any chance it has to score in transition.

3 Players to Watch

• Iowa State's best player does not start. Six-foot-2 guard Tyrus McGee (No. 25) has been one of the most efficient players in the nation thanks to superb shooting and a microscopic turnover percentage. The senior is especially dangerous from deep, as he's made 73 of 162 threes (45.1 percent) and 35 of 83 threes (42.2 percent) in Big 12 play. He also has just 23 turnovers this year while posting the nation's 33rd-best turnover rate. McGee leads the team in shot percentage (25.8 percent, 361st nationally), and the only thing keeping him from being the team's top scorer is limited minutes. McGee also is ISU's best perimeter defender, coming away with steals on 3.1 percent of the possessions he's out there (238th nationally).

Six-foot-7 forward Will Clyburn (No. 21) takes on the second-largest offensive load for ISU while producing decent offensive numbers. The senior is one of the only threats to get to the free throw line, as he draws 5.3 fouls per 40 minutes (182nd nationally). He's also a good shooter there, making 79 percent of his free throw tries. Offensively, he's best when he gets it all the way to the rim, as he's a 71-percent shooter on close shots and a 53-percent shooter on twos overall. His jumpshot isn't great, though; Clyburn has made just 28 percent of his two-point jumpshots (NCAA average is 35 percent) and 30 percent of his three-pointers (31 of 104) this year.

Five-foot-11 guard Korie Lucious (No. 13) is the weak link offensively for ISU. The Michigan State transfer can make threes (50 of 140, 35.7 percent) and also is ISU's best passer (84th nationally in assist rate), but that's not enough to overcome his other deficiencies. For one, the senior has an extremely high turnover rate, giving it away 89 times in 838 minutes. He's also struggled on shots inside, as he rarely gets all the way to the rim (only 12 percent of his field goals are close shots) and is a below-average two-point jumpshooter (32 percent). KU's defensive gameplan should be to pressure Lucious on the perimeter to force him into the paint. Once there, the Jayhawks should resist the urge to help, as he's more dangerous as a passer there than he is as a shooter.


Iowa State is a bad matchup for KU because of its ability to shoot the ball from all five spots.

ISU coach Fred Hoiberg, who uses Pomeroy as a consultant, knows from the numbers that KU is susceptible to giving up threes to begin with, as 35.7 percent of the field goals against KU this year have been three-point attempts (268th-lowest split nationally).

It's simple math, really. If ISU doesn't turn it over and can make one out of three three-pointers (which is below its season average), it will score 1 point per possession, and that's without taking offensive rebounding into consideration.

Score a point per possession against KU's defense, and you have a great chance of winning, especially at home.

KU should be able to score against undersized ISU, but it will have to avoid unforced turnovers against a team that rarely forces giveaways. The Jayhawks will also have to make some two-point jumpshots against a sagging ISU defense, and that hasn't exactly been a strength for KU over its last few games.

Look for the Cyclones will use lots of ball screens to get open threes, and at home in front of a knowledgeable and animated crowd, I think those shots will go down.

Iowa State 72, Kansas 68

Hawk to Rock

This is a tough matchup for Jeff Withey defensively, but it's also a favorable one for him offensively. The senior should have plenty of opportunity to score in the post, and barring foul trouble, he should be able make it to double-figure rebounds against a below-average rebounding team Iowa State. Withey also will get the chance to show he's improved in ball-screen defense. He has been better as of late, as he saved the game in regulation against Oklahoma State when he gave a strong hedge against the Cowboys' Marcus Smart to stop his drive to the rim. I'll say Withey leads KU in scoring while posting his sixth double-double in conference play.

Predictions tally
23-4 record, 302 points off (11.2 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock
SE Missouri: Perry Ellis (2nd in ratings)
Michigan State: Jeff Withey (4th)
Chattanooga: Andrew White III (10th)
Washington State: Ben McLemore (4th)
Saint Louis: Perry Ellis (7th)
San Jose State: Travis Releford (2nd)
Oregon State: Jeff Withey (2nd)
Colorado: Elijah Johnson (4th)
Belmont: Kevin Young (6th)
Richmond: Jeff Withey (1st)
Ohio State: Ben McLemore (1st)
American: Jeff Withey (5th)
Temple: Kevin Young (2nd)
Iowa State: Travis Releford (4th)
Texas Tech: Ben McLemore (4th)
Baylor: Jeff Withey (4th)
Texas: Elijah Johnson (8th)
Kansas State: Kevin Young (6th)
Oklahoma: Travis Releford (3rd)
West Virginia: Jeff Withey (2nd)
Oklahoma State: Ben McLemore (1st)
TCU: Kevin Young (3rd)
Oklahoma: Travis Releford (5th)
Kansas State: Naadir Tharpe (3rd)
Texas: Kevin Young (6th)
Oklahoma State: Ben McLemore (7th)
TCU: Travis Releford (4th)
Average: 4.1st in ratings


Reuben_J_Cogburn 7 years, 4 months ago

Question: "Will KU limit turnovers against a passive Iowa State D?"

Answer: No.

Marcia Parsons 7 years, 4 months ago

Do we know why McGee plays limited minutes for ISU?

swigrimm 7 years, 4 months ago

This is going to be a stiff test for them. Hilton has always had a bit of Jayhawk kriptonite in those floorboards somewhere... Our resolve and passion is going to have to be just as intense as it was in Stillwater to get through this hurdle. If they get through this, they will have established themselves to be similar to last year's team: Any deficiency in talent is more than made up in determination and focus. That would bode well for the rest of the conference season and certainly into the tournament. I am probably going to be pacing back and forth in my living room during the entire game.....

Joe Joseph 7 years, 4 months ago

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Joe Joseph 7 years, 4 months ago

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madcow 7 years, 4 months ago

If we win, Likely Big 12 Champs and a #1 seed.

If we lose, Unlikely to win Big 12, likely a #2-3 seed.

Brad Farha 7 years, 4 months ago

I think a 2 seed is the best we can hope for this year. Losing at home and losing to TCU probably cost us a #1 seed.

hawk_of_ages 7 years, 4 months ago

It's unlikely, not impossible. You figure two of the #1 seeds go to the Big Ten, one to the ACC. There are no Big East, SEC, or PAC-12 teams ranked ahead of us right now. If Gonzaga loses at some point, Kansas could be in position to move into that last spot if we win out.

phoggedin 7 years, 4 months ago

Not sure I see much hope for a #1 seed no matter what. But if we lose tonight, we're still in the thick of the Big 12 race. Remember KSU still has to play at Stillwater. (In fact, they still have to play at Baylor, too, though the Bears have been horrible lately.)

Eric J. Baker 7 years, 4 months ago

If we lose tonight but win out, I think we get a share of the Big 12. I think K-State is going to lose at Oklahoma State, and assuming both of them win out otherwise, that means 3 way tie for Big 12 title.

mikehawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Iowa State is a great team to help us prepare for Round #! and Round#2 in the NCAA. These teams in the lower seeds facing teams in upper seeds win or lose from 3 land. I went to the ORU vs. Weber State out of Utah last Saturday night and watched a really good team play a good ORU team and wear them out on the 3 ball. Believe me, we don't want to play Weber State in the first two rounds. This has been our story of early round losses, we get beat from 3 land. Somehow, you have to be able to defend that shot when teams are hitting from there and are able to shoot you right out of the game. This is especially true when the team we are facing doesn't turn the ball over, like ISU. Tonight will be interesting to see if we follow the ISU lead and start trying to gun with them from three, or go inside. At OU, with the Sooners hitting from 3, we spent the first half trying to match them 3 ball for 3 ball. Our bread in butter is high percentage shots in close and getting to the line. Unless, Ben is hot, and that seems to only happen at home, we have got to defend the perimeter with ferocity, and pound it inside and try to draw fouls. We desperately need some offensive production from Perry, also.

klineisanazi 7 years, 4 months ago

Afraid this is the game where KU's historically poor point guard play will cost them. Scary fact is that ISU doesn't even have to shoot lights-out from 3 to have a good chance to beat KU because KU's offense is so inefficient. It takes herculean defense by KU to eke out wins. Unfortunately ISU's offense is strong where KU's defense is weak, and it makes Withey less effective by pulling him away from the hoop. ISU is as bad of a matchup for KU as KSU is a good one. Will need some special voodoo to defeat Hilton Magic tonight.

jaybate 7 years, 4 months ago

Can't fault your numbers, but seasonal numbers this far into the season sometimes obscure the effect, especially the synergistic effect, of a player that has had to play injured getting healthier recently.

I am referring here to EJ getting healthier and so significantly better on defense the last couple games, despite being flu ridden against TCU.

Why is this so significant?

Well, EJ has had to play a whole lot of minutes this season due to Naadir's slow development.

As a result, KU's perimeter defenders have spent way more time helping EJ than pressuring their own men; that has made KU's defense unusually weak in stripping and disruption.

But now that EJ is getting some pop back and Naadir is learning to guard some with hand checking and holding in the no-whistle stretches, KU is increasingly able to pressure opponents.

Frankly, KU could pressure opponents a lot more, but until now have elected to use their perimeter defenders not so much to pressure, as to channel their men toward Withey in predicatable ways. Why do this? If the perimeter defenders really pressure hard, then what happens is there will be a significant number of breakthroughs that force Jeff to have guard and foul, rather than just hang back and swat off a controlled penetration. The season long strategy has been to keep the perimeter defenders with the driver so that a double team resulted and all Jeff was really doing was swatting, not guarding.

But now that EJ is pretty healthy, EJ, Travis, and Ben form a very formidable set of perimeter defenders. And while they will try to stay with the dribble penetration, rather than gamble heavily for distruption and strips, the fact that Ben and Travis have to help much less, or not at all, means they will apply significantly more pressure on the trey stripe.

I actually look for KU to win by 10-15 points, if KU is having a good day from trey.

By 5 if not.

I really don't see this as nearly as tough of a game as in Allen Field House, because of the development of both EJ and Naadir on defense, and how much more pressure KU will put on the trey stripe.

jaybate 7 years, 4 months ago

Self is right as usual. The key will be how KU's perimeter defenders handle the ball screen. The most effective way Self has found over the years to handle ball screens is for the bigs to run out and double the ball screen the moment they see it start to form. The key is for the big to arrive even before the ball screen is actually set. The early arrival cuts the baseline option entirely, so our perimeter defender has only to guard over the top.

The counter to this tactic of Self's will be to have the ball screener slide immediately toward baseline, receive a quick pass and take a quick 3pt pop.

If Iowa State can hit a lot of these ball screener slide and pops, KU will be in for a long night.

But my guess is ISU's trey percentage goes down sharply when the ball screener has to make the trey.

Regardless, it will be a fun game to watch, because Fred has already proven to be able to think up annoying things that Self needs a half time to adjust to.

HawksWin 7 years, 4 months ago

I cannot offer any sound rational as JB, so I'm going with my gut - which agrees with your analysis! Here's hoping that Self and the team figured out how to attack Mayor & his boys. RCJH!

HawksWin 7 years, 4 months ago

You mean the way Jeff ran out before the screen forcing Smart to take a bad shot in 2OT against OSU?

justinryman 7 years, 4 months ago

I think Self changes things up a little bit tonight on the defensive end, switching more on screens and not dropping back in the paint to help on the dribble drive. Saw a little of it vs TCU, not a bad game to see if you can try something new.

Self also knows that ISU wants to stretch the D and shoot lots of 3's. With those early NCAA turny loses he didn't change his style up. He does that now. He wants to win and it doesn't always have to be his way, but any way that can get it done.

i.e. Last year and this year. Win ugly. Win slow. Win fast. Just win.

He might have to play more Traylor and Ellis than normal leaving Withey and Young to be the ones that help on the dribble penetration and not the off guards. Fouls and just more pressure could take it's toll, but Young and his cross country background will keep goingand going and going and going.

I like KU close til the end and pulling away by 12 with made FTs.

Jonathan Allison 7 years, 4 months ago

Kansas is up to #6 in the AP and #5 in the coaches poll.

As if our opponents needed extra motivation, they now get get a shot at a top 5 team, a potential NCAA Tourney #1 seed, with a chance to knock KU out of the Big 12 Champions throne.

I haven't heard anyone mention KU even once in the discussion of potential #1 seeds ever since KU lost to TCU, and I even assumed it was a long-shot at best to think of us on the top line of one of the four regions, but now it's pretty clear that we're right back in the thick of it.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk Beat ISU!

702Hawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Withey has had a great couple of weeks obviously, but today might be a great day to rest him. He has always had trouble with scoring against smaller opponents. Also they are bombing 3s like they do that usually means long rebounds. All of this means Withey will be rendered useless this game. I hope we play small with them tonight. IMO Johnson, Tharpe, Relly, Bmac, and Young will give us the best line up. And Hawk to Rock is Relly unless Johnson starts driving and breaking ankles like he did to OSU.

justinryman 7 years, 4 months ago

Maybe we should play big tonight and force their little guys to guard our bigs?

702Hawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Making two against their threes doesn't make life easier for us. Plus we really aren't as big as we thought we were going to have preseason. With no Peters nor Lucas we are just a shorter team than last year.

jaybate 7 years, 4 months ago


I like your suggestion a lot and would like to see Self go diamond and two quite a bit in order to do it.

Also, the very best thing you can do to a trey team is to press them lightly so they set up 2-3 deeper than normal and then shoot their trey 1-3 feet deeper than normal. 3pt% drops precipitously each foot farther out. So: as with most battles, the best way to win is before the battle starts by shaping the battle field. In this case use the press to get them to set up and shoot farther out and let the statistics of shooting distance be your sixth defender, rather than burning yourself hounding them on the perimeter through ball screens. Get them to set up the ball screen two feet deeper than they like and you have already won.

hawk_of_ages 7 years, 4 months ago

Self did sit Withey last year against Mizzou and Purdue to match up better with their smaller, trey-gunning lineups. But the difference is we had Thomas Robinson; this year, if Withey doesn't play we lose our best post threat. So I don't know if Self will go that way unless we get desperate, but I wouldn't be surprised to see some four-guard lineups.

Jack Wilson 7 years, 4 months ago

I agree on a smaller lineup. But I kind of like going small with Withey in as the 5 as Self has been doing nearly every game; and with White in at the 4.

Our best small lineup -- Tharpe, McLemore, Releford, White, Withey. EJ in for Tharpe is fine, too, but I like Tharpe penetration to kick to the three-ball shooters.

But then again, I live under some crazy false illusion that White could actually be used to help us win a conference game. I understand that I'm delusional.

Boouk 7 years, 4 months ago

I like White or Releford at the 4 so they can't sag off our other big whenever we look inside to Withey.

Boouk 7 years, 4 months ago

Why rest him when he has a 5 inch height advantage over Niang and 3 inch advantage over Ejim, their 2 bigs? Then, offensively, we can throw in the post and not have to rely on our inconsistent PG's.

Ryan Michael 7 years, 4 months ago

I'm probably going to get blasted for posting this, but I disagree with using Withey for much offensively. He just isn't a good offensive player. Even with a height advantage, typically speaking he plays weak/soft and doesn't use it. If a defender is bumped up against him, he turns, bends his back, jumps an inch, and shotputs a ball from his shoulder at the rim. At best we get free throws. Maybe once a game he gets a nice baby J, but it's not more than once or twice a game. More than a couple times in the same game, he'll get an entry pass and not be able to hold onto it because he's got really soft hands apparently...

Most of Witheys offensive numbers come from guards penetrating and creating a wide open lane for an uncontested dunk for the big guy. So long story short, I think he's one of the best defensive bigs in the country, but terrible offensively. If we try to force our offense through Withey I think we struggle badly.

Boouk 7 years, 4 months ago

True, he's not Robinson or the Morris twins when it comes to strength, but he has a huge height/length advantage in this game that must be taken advantage of. He can have success in this game with some simple jump-hooks against ISU's undersized bigs.

wrwlumpy 7 years, 4 months ago

How will the team get back to Lawrence? Classes will be cancelled tomorrow anyway. Have room service at the Sheridan in Ames. Sleep and have a walk thru later at a local Catholic Rec League Gym. Get back home when it is safe. Does all of this fall under Doc Sadler, or is there a transportation asst. assigned to get them home.

702Hawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Here is the X factor. I feel like HCBS normally does not coach as hard as he can most games but with Number 500 I can see him going all out. I could see this game like the National Championship game where he is truly the man behind the chess pieces.

BucknellJayhawk3 7 years, 4 months ago

As long as Naadir and EJ don't go 2/13 each with 8 pts we have shot. Would love to see a guard other than Ben make some shots consistently. Teahan used to come in off the bench and pop off the three- can't AW3 do the same? Teahan wasn't exactly the superb ball handler either. Unfortunately BS plays his roster tighter during bigger games. Maybe Jamari can have a breakout game and provide energy like Kevin Young. That's my babble for the day.

VaJay 7 years, 4 months ago

One thing not figured into Jesse's statistics is the recent string of games where we've turned up the defensive intensity. Hopefully, that will give us the edge tonight. If we stay tuned in, challenge the 3 ball, get the rebound & push the ball up court in a hurry, I think we win by 5.

Michael Leiker 7 years, 4 months ago

All opportunity for ISU. All pressure for KU. Bad combination, but they've overcome many times in the same situation.

Tony Bandle 7 years, 4 months ago

As of this afternoon, Rivals has Kansas as the projected 4th #1 along with Indiana, Gonzaga and Duke!!!!! Pending we win out in conference.

I'll take a big slurp of KoolAid, KU 72 ISU 62.

Thomas Michaud 7 years, 4 months ago

I think it will be on Ghost and BMac to push us through on offense. Both have to take a lot more shots in this game and play the numbers shooting outside to open up the inside. If EJ or Tharpe could do some dribble drives (layups and kick to the outside)m it could help to open the middle as well. It's on the guards to help Jeff be a factor in this game. However, I think KY will be just as essential in being the X factor on offense and defensive rebounding.

Hawk to Rock: Releford with a high shooting night with a high percentage and his tenacious D on the perimeter.

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