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



Thomas Michaud 1 year, 1 month 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.


Tony Bandle 1 year, 1 month 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.


Michael Leiker 1 year, 1 month ago

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


VaJay 1 year, 1 month 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.


BucknellJayhawk3 1 year, 1 month 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.


702Hawk 1 year, 1 month 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.


wrwlumpy 1 year, 1 month 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 1 year, 1 month 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.


Jonathan Allison 1 year, 1 month 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!


justinryman 1 year, 1 month 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.


jaybate 1 year, 1 month 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.


jaybate 1 year, 1 month 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.


klineisanazi 1 year, 1 month 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.


mikehawk 1 year, 1 month 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.


madcow 1 year, 1 month 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.


Joe Joseph 1 year, 1 month ago

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swigrimm 1 year, 1 month 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.....


oldalum 1 year, 1 month ago

Do we know why McGee plays limited minutes for ISU?


claycountyjayhawk 1 year, 1 month ago

KU 82 ISU 80 in one OT. rock to chalk MR Young


Reuben_J_Cogburn 1 year, 1 month ago

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

Answer: No.


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