Saturday, March 16, 2019

KU’s Bill Self expecting Sprint Center to be slanted Iowa State’s way for Big 12 title game

Kansas head coach Bill Self and West Virginia head coach Bog Huggins, background, watch from the sidelines during the second half, Friday, March 15, 2019 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas head coach Bill Self and West Virginia head coach Bog Huggins, background, watch from the sidelines during the second half, Friday, March 15, 2019 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.


Kansas City, Mo. — The stage is set for the 2019 Big 12 tournament title game and it’s No. 3 Kansas vs. No. 5 Iowa State for the hardware and confetti.

But Kansas coach Bill Self is not exactly planning on his team having the home-court advantage in today’s 5 p.m. final like the Jayhawks are accustomed to inside Sprint Center.

“I would say that it will be the first time in a long time that we probably won’t have a comparable home court is what I predict,” Self said Friday night.

Self’s Jayhawks, of course, reached the title game with an 88-74 victory over No. 10 seed West Virginia in Friday’s semifinal at Sprint Center.

Dedric Lawson led the Jayhawks with 24 points and Quentin Grimes rekindled the kind of hot shooting that he introduced himself with back in KU’s season opener against Michigan State to lead Kansas into its 14th Big 12 title game in program history.

And fifth-seeded Iowa State reached the final round by knocking off No. 4 Baylor in the quarterfinals and No. 1 Kansas State on Friday in the other semi.

Today’s matchup will give one team a chance to win the season series outright. But Self said the timing of KU’s victory, compared to Iowa State’s, which ended more than two hours earlier, could have a huge impact on the division of the Sprint Center crowd for the title game.

“I hope our fans are creative,” Self said after Friday’s 14-point win. “But I bet you Iowa State has 70 percent of the building. The reason I say that is because, when you play that first game and you win, now you’re able to hustle the tickets off the team that didn’t win. And (the Iowa State fans) are pros at hustling tickets in Kansas City.”

Regardless of which side has how many fans, Self said he thought Saturday’s championship “should be a fun day.”

“Our people show up and they’ll compete just like we will tomorrow,” he said. “It should be a fun day and certainly a game in which I think will be a fun game to play.”

As for the early breakdown of the matchup, the Jayhawks themselves were hoping that the down-to-the-wire battle the Cyclones (22-11) endured against Kansas State would have Iowa State a little more tired than Kansas. And if that’s the case, they know they have to execute well enough to take advantage.

“Definitely trying to slow them down and make them play bad because they kind of had a rough game against K-State and they might be a little tired,” freshman guard Quentin Grimes said of the Cyclones after scoring 18 points in KU’s victory over WVU. “So hopefully we can get out and kind of wear them down and make the play bad.”

While a win today would not erase the fact that Kansas finished third in the regular season standings and saw its streak of 14 consecutive Big 12 titles come to an end, just about every Jayhawk in the locker room on Friday night already had his mind focused on finishing the job this time around and salvaging something out of the pre-NCAA Tournament portion of their season.

“Just knowing that we let the streak slip on our hands, we don’t want that hanging on us,” Grimes said. “We don’t want to look back at another Big 12 championship that we could’ve had. So we definitely want to go out there and get a win.”

Added point guard Devon Dotson of the scope of Saturday’s title game: “It’s very big because we let the regular season slip away from us and we’re just trying to win a Big 12 tournament championship and that would be a big thing for the program and for us.”


Bryce Landon 3 years, 8 months ago

Considering that KU's campus is exponentially closer to KC and Sprint Center compared to that glorified junior college from Ames, IA, there is no excuse for the Sprint Center to be partial to the Cyclones tonight. None. Insofar as we are able, we should not allow ISU's white trash fans to turn Sprint Center into Hilton Coliseum South.

Edward Daub 3 years, 8 months ago

"Build a Wall" at the Iowa-Missouri Border! Start out at I-35 and construct east and west! Rock Chalk!

Bryce Landon 3 years, 8 months ago

But then how would I get back to Kansas to be with my family at the holidays, LOL?

Kit Duncan 3 years, 8 months ago

If you read the article you would understand why Coach expects ISU fans to outnumber KU fans, and he is right. It’s not about who bought tickets before the tournament, but who was eager to buy without risk after their team locked up a berth in the Final.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 8 months ago

I read the article. You really agree that there will be less Kansas fans because they are too 'tired'? Playing in the later game will give Iowa State 70% of the fan base?

This is purely bulletin board material.

Adam Bengtson 3 years, 8 months ago

I will say it again. Kansas fans are embarrassing quiet at Sprint Center. School like Kansas should never be outdone by Iowa State in fan support.

First half last night was about as quiet as church.

Andy Godwin 3 years, 8 months ago

ISU fans take over the Power and Light district and the businesses love them for it. Both KSU and ISU fans were substantially louder last night in the Sprint Center. It was a bit strange to see a KSU fan in our section up constantly during the WVU-KU game imploring KU fans to make some noise. It will be definitely a home game for ISU even though KU will be wearing the white uniforms. And I can say without hesitation that ISU fans are loud, obnoxiously loud, so it will seem like a road game for the Jayhawks and we know how they have performed in those situations. Given that the team stats are very similar (77.4 versus 75.7 pts/game ISU, 68.4 versus 69.8 points allowed/game ISU) I would take ISU and the 1.5 points. Hope I am wrong. Rock Chalk.

Dane Pratt 3 years, 8 months ago

Gotta give it up for their fans when they show up in numbers and make noise. Seems they do the same for football. We could take some fan lessons from them.

Edward Daub 3 years, 8 months ago

One Picture is worth 1000 Words!

Bog(?) Huggins (Dancing Bear, Warmup Jacket) and Bill Self (Arms Folded, Proper Suit and Tie) and they are both thinking "You gotta dance with who brung ya". Classic!

Craig Carson 3 years, 8 months ago

These teams are contrasting styles..ISU is weak in the middle..KU should dominate that area..but ISU guards are way more consistent..especially from the outside..if they can limit those 3 pt attempts KU should win

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 8 months ago

We have more talent that seems to be gelling at the right time but we still like to keep the game in question as long as possible.

Brad Watson 3 years, 8 months ago

We need the 6TH MAN to bring great effort and energy tonight....Tonights game is for a CHAMPIONSHIP........WE ARE IN A TITLE GAME.........this is what it is all about......STAND UP AND CHEER THE WHOLE GAME and do your part ...... to insure VICTORY!

Bj Cassady 3 years, 8 months ago

We need to blanket their guards. Take no prisoners!

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