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One more time: Iowa State takes on Kansas in Big 12 semifinals

Iowa State forwards Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim celebrate the Cyclones' win over Kansas State on Thursday, March 13, 2014 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. They will face Kansas in the semifinal round of the Big 12 Tournament on Friday.

Iowa State forwards Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim celebrate the Cyclones' win over Kansas State on Thursday, March 13, 2014 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. They will face Kansas in the semifinal round of the Big 12 Tournament on Friday. by Nick Krug

Iowa State didn't have to go to overtime to beat Kansas State in the first game of the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals Thursday afternoon at Sprint Center, but that game was just as intense as the one that followed it — an OT thriller between Kansas and Oklahoma State.

Now that both the Cyclones (24-7) and Jayhawks (24-8) have lived up to the old March motto of "survive and advance," they will play each other for the third time this season Friday night at Sprint Center for a chance to advance to the Big 12 title game.

ISU and KU haven't played each other in six weeks. In the first meeting, on Jan. 13, Kansas won, 77-70, at Iowa State.

The rematch came 16 days later in Lawrence. Again, Kansas prevailed. This time, 92-81, at Allen Fieldhouse.

For the end of this trilogy, we've got a neutral site, in Kansas City, Mo. Sprint Center usually can't be called neutral the way Kansas fans pack it out, but Iowa State might be the one school this season that can come close to matching the crowd energy of the Jayhawks' fan base.

ISU always travels well for the conference tournament, even if the faithful know their Cyclones have little chance of winning the event. This year, ISU (ranked No. 16 entering the postseason) could be cutting down nets Saturday night. Even if the Cyclones have to go through No. 10 Kansas to do it.

As a bit of a refresher course on Fred Hoiberg's Cyclones, here is what they've been up to lately.

Melvin Ejim, No. 3

6-6, 220, sr. forward

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe defends as Iowa State forward Melvin Ejim drives during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe defends as Iowa State forward Melvin Ejim drives during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Stats Jan. 13, vs. KU: 15 points, 5/15 FGs, 2/5 3s, 3/3 FTs, 5 rebounds, 3 turnovers, 3 steals, 5 fouls.

— Jan. 29 at KU: 18 points, 7/13 FGs, 1/2 3s, 3/4 FTs, 8 rebounds (3 offensive), 3 assists, 2 steals, 3 turnovers and 4 fouls in 29 minutes.

The Big 12's player of the year had a slow start in the quarterfinals against K-State. Slow by his standards at least. And Ejim still scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds after picking up some hardware.

None by Cyclone Basketball

Said Hoiberg of Ejim's outing, after ISU advanced with a 91-85 win: "Melvin, to go out there, and he had five offensive rebounds in the first half, did a good job I thought. He missed a couple of easy ones there in the first.  He could have had a 30‑point game, but then made those really tough finishes around the basket, down the stretch.  He hit some big free throws for us and again really helped us do the job on the glass."

He averages 18.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and has hit 36 of 109 3's in Hoiberg's free-wheeling offense.

DeAndre Kane, No. 50

6-4, 200, sr. guard

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor gets a hand in the face of Iowa State guard DeAndre Kane as he puts up a three late in the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor gets a hand in the face of Iowa State guard DeAndre Kane as he puts up a three late in the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Stats Jan. 13, vs. KU: 21 points, 6/13 FGs, 1/3 3s, 8/16 FTs, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 turnovers, 4 steals.

— Jan. 29 at KU: 22 points, 8/14 FGs, 2/4 3s, 4/6 FTs, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover in 34 minutes.

Kane scored the first basket of the game against Kansas State, then didn't make much noise offensively for a long time.

The All-Big 12 first team point guard scored 11 points and had 2 assists before fouling out. Still, ISU handled the final minutes just fine without him.

Kane averages 16.9 points, 6.7 boards and 5.8 assists. He has shot a team-leading 214 free throws, but only converts them at 63.6% of the time.

Georges Niang, No. 31

6-7, 240, so. forward

Kansas center Joel Embiid battles for position with Iowa State defenders Georges Niang, left, and DeAndre Kane during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Joel Embiid battles for position with Iowa State defenders Georges Niang, left, and DeAndre Kane during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Stats Jan. 13, vs. KU: 11 points, 4/20 FGs, 0/9 FTs, 3/4 FTs, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 turnovers.

— Jan. 29 at KU: 24 points, 10/17 FGs, 3/7 3s, 1/2 FTs, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 turnovers, 1 block in 38 minutes.

When Kane left the floor against K-State, Niang became ISU's go-to play-maker.

After the Wildcats tied the game at 76 with less than four minutes left, Niang hit a jumper, found Naz Long for a 3, hit Ejim for a layup, scored in the paint, grabbed a defensive board and fed Long for an assist.

The versatile forward finished with 18 points, seven boards and four helpers.

"You look at what Georges did at the end," Hoiberg said, "those last couple of minutes he was in there, we gave the ball to him and he just went out there made unbelievable basketball plays."

Niang averages 16.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and also likes to fire from deep — connecting on 43 of 137 3-ponters this season (just 31.4%).

Dustin Hogue, No. 22

6-6, 215, jr. forward

Kansas players Joel Embiid, left, and Perry Ellis defend against a shot from Iowa State forward Dustin Hogue during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas players Joel Embiid, left, and Perry Ellis defend against a shot from Iowa State forward Dustin Hogue during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Stats Jan. 13, vs. KU: 13 points, 3/10 FGs, 0/1 3s, 7/8 FTs, 9 rebounds (6 offensive).

— Jan. 29 at KU: 7 points, 2/5 FGs, 2/3 3s, 1/2 FTs, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 2 turnovers in 31 minutes.

This guy might be the most impressive rebounder in the country. Hogue is only 6-foot-6 but always seems to come up with the ball once it bounces off the rim. Oh, you're bigger than him? Doesn't matter. He's gonna get it.

Hogue joined Ejim in the double-double department vs. K-State, going for 19 points and 10 rebounds.

"Dustin Hogue, I thought, did everything today," his coach said. "He's always been a guy that's done the dirty work for this team, all throughout the year. He doesn't get the credit he deserves today, not only on the defensive end and rebounding, which he always does, but made some huge plays for us on offense."

Hogue hit 6 of his 8 shots Thursday. On the season, he averages 10.6 points and 8.6 boards.

Monté Morris, No. 11

6-2, 170, fr. guard

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins drives to the bucket between Iowa State players Monte Morris, left, and DeAndre Kane during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins drives to the bucket between Iowa State players Monte Morris, left, and DeAndre Kane during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Stats Jan. 13, vs. KU: 7 points, 1/5 FGs, 1/4 3s, 0/1 FTs, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 0 turnovers, 4 steals.

— Jan. 29 at KU: 4 points, 1/4 FGs, 0/2 3s, 2/2 FTs, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals, 0 turnovers in 35 minutes.

Morris consistently put teammates in position to make something happen against Kansas State, and he ended up dealing 10 assists, to go with five points and three steals.

"I thought he was great," Hoiberg told the media after the game. "He always does the right thing defensively, got some key deflections. We were having trouble getting stops unless we got a turnover and I thought he did a really good job of staying tight with (Will) Spradling. It's not an easy matchup. He moves so much and Monte, I thought, did a great job chasing him all over the floor. And 10 assists and one turnover, it's hard when you have an 8‑to‑1 assist‑to‑turnover ratio to increase that in a game. But to go out there and do that as a freshman in his first Big 12 tournament tells you all you need to know about that kid. He loves the big stage. He won back-to-back state championships in Michigan. He came out and played as poised a game as I think you can have as a freshman."

Morris averages 6.0 points this season, and has passed out 120 assists, compared to 21 turnovers, in 31 games.

ISU bench

Naz Long, No. 15

6-4, 205, so. guard

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins floats a shot over Iowa State guard Naz Long during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins floats a shot over Iowa State guard Naz Long during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Stats Jan. 13, vs. KU: 0 points, 0/2 FGs, 0/2 3s, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 16 minutes.

— Jan. 29 at KU: 0 points, 0/3 FGs, 0/2 3s, 1 turnover in 8 minutes.

Long has developed into ISU's best 3-point shooter, as he proved at the end of regulation against Oklahoma State last week, setting up an ISU overtime victory.

He drilled 2 of 3 from deep against K-State, and finished with 14 points.

On the year, Long has hit 53 3-pointers on 135 attempts (39.3%).

Matt Thomas, No. 21

6-3, 200, fr. guard

— Stats Jan. 13, vs. KU: 3 points, 1/5 FGs, 1/4 3s, 0/1 FTs, 2 rebounds, one assist, 3 blocks, 1 steal.

— Jan. 29 at KU: 6 points, 2/6 FGs, 2/6 3s, 1 rebound, 3 assists, 1 turnover and 2 blocks in 25 minutes.

A steady guard off the bench, Thomas averages 6.1 points, has made 43 of 127 3-ponters and has only turned the ball over 15 times all season.

He went scoreless against K-State in 10 minutes of action.

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Comments

Steve Zimmerman 5 months, 3 weeks ago

This is going to be a great game. It'll be interesting how we can defend the inside without Jojo once again. 3rd trial looks doable for the Cyclones, if they're lucky. It'll be crazy for them not to lazer focus on Wiggins. Until we see the others step up and play their 115%, it'll be a single digit loss for us. Here's to another 40 pts!!

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Dirk Medema 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Was it you that said something similar yesterday about OSU?

Maybe someone else.

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Steve Zimmerman 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Prediction-wise, yes. Sounds too skeptic, but I like us to win it all, I always like the team to surprise me and I can't get out of this superstition (so far so good)!!

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Brian Mellor 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Now this one I'm actually quite worried about. ISU is pretty well due for a win against us, and I have a feeling they're going to come out amped up and blazing hot.

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Bob Zimmerman 5 months, 3 weeks ago

KU should be more worried about ISU academics and research. They are growing these areas by leaps and bounds and recruit the smart people...that won't go to Kansas.

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Patricia Davis 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Why do you hate KU so much? What did KU ever do to you? If it's such an inferior place why waste your precious time berating KU.

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Tony Bandle 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Patricia, Bobby Z is just exercising his right, as all Americans are free to do express himself. Just remember this simple truth..you are what you say. how you say it and who you say it to.

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Seth Peattie 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Raise your hand if Bob Zimmerman should move along to one of his other daily activities (napping, eating, recess).

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John Fitzgerald 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Only thing I'm nervous about is it's really hard to beat a team 3 times in one season, and that's any team. This is ISU, who has proven to be a great team this year. Although most of the ISU players are from last year and remember us beating them down in the tourney last year, I'm glad most of our current players weren't around for it so they are hungry to create their own history. Three things that need to happen for us to win:

1.) Defend 2.) Rebound 3.) Shoot above 50%

*I would have mentioned turnovers but we had nearly 20 when we played them at home and still won. Don't think it's as big as an issue as defending, rebounding, and shooting the ball well.

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