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Bill Self press conference notes: Feb. 20, 2014

Kansas head coach Bill Self rips into point guard Frank Mason after Mason was issued a flagrant foul during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Kansas head coach Bill Self rips into point guard Frank Mason after Mason was issued a flagrant foul during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

With Saturday's home game against No. 19 Texas coming up, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self met with the media Thursday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse to talk about the rematch with the Longhorns, who handled the No. 8 Jayhawks in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 1.

Here are the bullet-point highlights from the Q & A:

• On Texas freshman guard Isaiah Taylor: "I thought he totally controlled the game." Texas had KU on its heels the whole time. The Longhorns' transition offense was better than KU's defense, and the Jayhawks' ball-screen defense wasn't any good at all. KU did a bad job on the boards at Texas, too.

• UT bigs Cameron Ridley and Demarcus Holland gave KU problems. The Jayhawks usually win the battle of the boards in Big 12 play this season. But the one game they didn't "we obviously got whipped" on the glass. That was a big reason why Texas controlled the game.

• On clinching the Big 12 title in the weeks to come: We can't talk about anything past Saturday, because if KU doesn't win against Texas, it's down to a one-game lead, as opposed to a three-game lead. To him, this game isn't even about the league race as much as it is playing a Texas team that smacked the Jayhawks around already.

• February can be a tough time of the year, and part of it is playing teams a second time. Self watched a little of Syracuse's loss to Boston College on Wednesday night. Regardless of what people think, in 35 games or so of basketball, it's hard to be jacked up every game. Emotion plays a big part of your energy level.

When another team gives you your best shot and you're off a little bit, that negates a talent advantage that might be had. Playing a team the second time, it's harder to get easy baskets, players are better scouted. If two teams play the first time and it's a wide margin "I guarantee the second game is always gonna be much narrower." Teams raise their level the second time if they've been handled easily the first time. Top-five teams in the country are laboring to win, especially on the road. It's been that way every year. That's likely what happened with Syracuse.

• KU has been ranked as a top field-goal percentage defense team most of Self year's in Lawrence. This season, the Jayhawks are one of the top offensive field goal percentage teams. KU entered the week No. 1 in the nation in field goal percentage. (Currently, they're at 50.3%.) Self would rather Kansas be good at making it difficult for its opponents to score. No matter what a team's offense is like, there are going to be some nights where it is off, like at Texas Tech. You have to figure out a way to win those games when shots aren't falling.

A lot of times, guys have the sense that it is easy to out-score foes if shots are falling. Defense is a better formula for success over time. You're not always gonna make shots. "Defense always travels."

Self figured this team would be really good defensively and average on offense. It's kind of been the reverse. "And we're still not great, offensively."

KU might not be as bad defensively as he plays it up. In order for KU to be great, Jayhawks have to be great defensively. This team just has different pieces and personalities from teams in the past. Some personalities are more laid back than past intense guys on defense like Thomas Robinson or Travis Releford.

"We're better defensively when we suck offensively."

• Can players get tougher once they arrive at a college program? Coaches can improve on it, but you can't turn a guy into a junk yard dog. You can improve them on a scale — if they're a 5, they can go to an 8. There's room for improvement. It's also a team thing.

• Self would like to see KU's point guards "cut the head off" defensively. Past guards like Tyshawn Taylor, Sherron Collins, Russell Robinson and Mario Chalmers might have been taken for granted. Naadir Tharpe isn't as big as some of those guys, but he and Frank Mason can do a better job of forcing opponents to play poorly offensively.

Self isn't just picking on Tharpe and Mason, that's just kind of the way KU is playing.

• Joel Embiid seems to be fine. Self talked to him this morning. He assumes his back is fine. It's his back that would give him problems, if anything.

• Embiid is about to set the KU freshman blocks record. He's currently tied with Eric Chenowith at 62. He is good, but could be great. There is another step he has to take.

• Naadir Tharpe hasn't shot it great the past week. But he's been a consistent shooter this season and is a good passer, creates shots off penetration. KU needs him to be good for the Jayhawks to be great. Self is pleased with Tharpe, but he would like to see him and others guard the ball better.

• On the Kansas vs Texas series: There have been some really good players and games between the two programs since Self's arrival at Kansas. Hopefully this one will be a classic, too.

• If Kansas isn't good defensively, that's on Self. There's no excuse for not being good on that end.

— Hear full audio from the press conference by clicking here: Bill Self discusses KU's upcoming rematch with Texas

— Listen to Jayhawks freshmen Conner Frankamp and Joel Embiid talk about Saturday's game.

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The Day After: Texas Tech

Kansas players mob Andrew Wiggins after Wiggins' last-second bucket lifted the Jayhawks over Texas Tech, 64-63 on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas players mob Andrew Wiggins after Wiggins' last-second bucket lifted the Jayhawks over Texas Tech, 64-63 on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

Apparently it's better to be elite than perfect.

With two of the most talented freshmen in the nation wearing Kansas University basketball uniforms, even crunch-time blunders from Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid turned into gold for the Jayhawks Tuesday night, as they escaped Lubbock, Texas, with a 64-63 victory over Texas Tech.

No. 8 KU (20-6 overall, 11-2 Big 12) didn't play awful at United Spirit Arena, home of the Red Raiders (13-13, 5-8), but the outcome might have flipped had center Embiid not had guard Wiggins' back — and vice versa — in the final minute.

Returning to the Kansas lineup after sitting out a game with an ailing back and knee, Embiid's final two points on an 18-point night came on his third offensive rebound, when he jammed in a missed dunk by Wiggins with just more than 30 seconds left in the second half.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B33acfXed6U

Wiggins had pulled off a similar baseline drive and slam earlier in the night, but he hesitated for a split-second when TT big man Dejan Kravic slid over as a help defender. That threw Wiggins' timing off just enough that his dunk attempt hit the rim. But the 6-foot-8 guard's drive drew so much attention, Embiid had no problem gathering the mistake and stuffing it home to finish 6-for-7 from the floor.

After Texas Tech's Robert Turner hit two bonus free throws to put KU in a one-point deficit, Kansas had to get a basket to avoid its third conference loss. Embiid received the ball on the right block, and as he spun toward the baseline, he lost his handle. Wouldn't you know it, Wiggins was there to grab the loose ball and lay it in for the win, and finish with 19 points on 6-for-11 shooting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hc-SPqh0kXY

A couple of unlikely and remarkable plays end up making the difference, offensively, in the final minute of a game controlled by Texas Tech from a pace standpoint — KU's 42 field-goal attempts were its second-lowest total of the season (Baylor held the Jayhawks to 40 attempts on Jan. 20).

Quick takeaway:

Kansas was obviously the more talented team, and like it or not, that's how a lot of college basketball games are decided when the disparity is drastic between two rosters. Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith, who knows the game as well as anyone, had a terrific game plan and his players executed it to near perfection. In the end, it simply wasn't enough.

“Good teams like Kansas make plays like that. Great players make plays like that," Smith said. "Andrew’s a great player and great players make plays like that.“

You won't hear Kansas coach Bill Self complaining about his team winning in a tough situation on the road, but he surely will let his players know the kind of effort they gave late in the first half and through chunks of the second half, when Texas Tech was in control, won't win them many games in the postseason, which is now less than a month away.

Three reasons to smile:

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins blocks a shot from Texas Tech forward Jaye Crockett late in the game on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins blocks a shot from Texas Tech forward Jaye Crockett late in the game on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

1 — The Red Raiders easily could have won this game. "Wait, why am I smiling about this?" you may ask. Well, the Jayhawks didn't let them win. With a coach of Smith's caliber, in a packed house full of hostile fans and with Tech players likely believing a victory over KU could get them out of relative irrelevancy and one step closer to an NCAA Tournament berth, Kansas denied the Red Raiders the résumé-building victory they so desperately needed.

And despite the game-winner Wiggins converted on offense, his defensive stand seconds earlier had as much to do with the KU win. Texas Tech only turned the ball over nine times, hit 47% of its shot attempts and 6 of 12 from three-point range, but KU's defense came through in the final minute (with the exception of Embiid getting whistled for a blocking foul on Turner with 16 seconds left).

On Tech's previous last-minute possession, Wiggins blocked a Jaye Crockett jumper with the shot clock winding down, and when the denial fell back in Crockett's lap, Wiggins contested another jumper. The long rebound went to Tech's Jordan Tolbert, but Kansas forced a held ball, with the possession arrow in its favor.

2 — The real Joel Embiid is back. That evil twin of Embiid's — the one whose back and/or knee issues limited his range of motion and kept him to 7.5 points in his past four appearances — that guy is gone.

The real Embiid looked comfortable running the floor, and making assertive moves in the post. He finished with 18 points, 8 rebounds and a block, but the most promising number for KU is that he played 32 minutes. As Self talked about after the win, the 7-footer hadn't even practiced that much in the past week. Embiid said he felt like he was at about 90 percent.

So, barring any more injury setbacks, this is the kind of performance the Jayhawks can expect out of their center from Cameroon going forward.

3 — These young Jayhawks have confidence. Any time a team can pull off a last-second win, it gives the players an experience they can draw from in the future. The next time Kansas finds itself down a possession in the final minutes, Self can say, "Hey, remember how we finished strong at Texas Tech, and Jo Jo and Wiggs made those clutch plays? That's the mentality it's going to take to win this one."

What's more, the Jayhawks didn't let their struggles at Tech hold them back in the final minutes. Freshman guard Wayne Selden hadn't scored in the second half, and had only made 1 of 7 shots on the night when he rose up to drain a critical thee-pointer with less than three minutes to play.

Even when the Jayhawks are down, they believe they will win a close game.

Three reasons to sigh:

Kansas center Joel Embiid battles for position against Texas Tech forward Kader Tapsoba during the second half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas center Joel Embiid battles for position against Texas Tech forward Kader Tapsoba during the second half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

1 — Although Embiid returned, Texas Tech beat Kansas in points in the paint, 30-24. Embiid's defense might not have caught up with his offense quite yet, and Kansas only blocked three shots (one for Embiid, two for Wiggins). That total, though, isn't as troubling as how easily Tech scored inside at times. Defensive breakdowns led to open dunks/layups. Kravic, a senior 7-footer only averaging 6.4 points a game — scored 13 on 6 of 8 shooting.

Part of Tech's success inside came with its 13 offensive rebounds. KU had 13, too, and out-rebounded TT, 28-26, overall. But the Red Raiders scored 19 second-chance points, compared to KU's 14.

2 — Perry Ellis didn't make a shot, and barely made an impact. After a career game against TCU on Saturday, the sophomore forward contributed to Kansas losing the points in the paint battle. Ellis missed all three of his shot attempts, found himself in foul trouble and was the only Kansas starter to not play 30-plus minutes (he played 26). All four of his points came at the free-throw line and he only secured two rebounds.

Hardly the only culprit for KU, Ellis was one of five Jayhawks to play at least 10 minutes but not produce more than six points as Wiggins and Embiid carried the load. Selden and Naadir Tharpe each scored six, Jamari Traylor had five in 12 minutes and Tarik Black scored four in 10 minutes.

Between Ellis, Selden and Tharpe, they combined to hit 3 of 18 field goals.

3 — Texas Tech made 47% of its shots. Since Self arrived at Kansas, his teams have won so often because of defense. In eight of Self's previous 10 seasons at KU, his teams have led the Big 12 in field-goal percentage defense. Currently, the Jayhawks are fifth in that category, at 41.2%.

Six of KU's last eight opponents have made 42% of their shots or better. For the Jayhawks to truly be considered one of the nation's top teams this season, they just need to turn it up a notch on the defensive end, and force foes into more difficult attempts.

One thought for the road:

There is no shame in winning ugly. Especially on the road. Even though Kansas had season-lows in rebounds (28) and assists (six), the Jayhawks managed to win. The ongoing struggle for this team seems to be getting everyone to produce to his fullest (or in that neighborhood) each and every game. A lot of that has to do with the team's youth. Consistency is the most difficult thing to grasp for most teams. Because KU starts three freshmen and a sophomore, that is inherently more challenging. If junior point guard Tharpe (1 of 7 shooting, 2 assists, 4 turnovers at TT) can set the tone in that department, the rest of the team likely will follow his lead.

Next up:

Thanks to Iowa State's 85-76 win over Texas on Tuesday in Ames, Iowa, the Longhorns enter Saturday's 6:30 p.m. game at Allen Fieldhouse two games behind Kansas in the Big 12 standings. A win for the Jayhawks would avenge their road loss to UT and put them even closer to a 10th straight Big 12 championship.

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Getting reacquainted with TCU

TCU head coach Trent Johnson watches in the final minutes against the Jayhawks on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas.

TCU head coach Trent Johnson watches in the final minutes against the Jayhawks on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas. by Nick Krug

Unfortunately for Trent Johnson, the above pose has been his go-to move this season.

That's what going winless in conference play will do to a coach.

Things won't get any easier for his TCU team (9-14 overall, 0-11 Big 12) today at Allen Fieldhouse, but they could be worse. The Horned Frogs could have to deal with Kansas starting freshman center Joel Embiid. But Jayhawks basketball coach Bill Self announced Friday the 7-foot phenom will miss the game, because he didn't practice on Friday and continues to recover from some nagging knee and back soreness.

That's good news for TCU, because Embiid went for 14 points, six rebounds and three blocks in just 19 minutes in a 91-69 Jayhawks blowout victory on Jan. 25 at Fort Worth, Texas.

The Frogs, dead last in the Big 12 standings, will take all the help they can get against first-place KU (18-6, 9-2).

Though the Horned Frogs have lost 11 straight games since closing their non-conference schedule on Dec. 29 by beating Texas Southern, three of their Big 12 losses have come by six points or less. Most recently in such a scenario, they gave Texas a scare on Feb. 4 before falling at home, 59-54.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TylgEpktMUs

Still, the fact of the matter is TCU just isn't that good, despite the presence of a few talented players. One major issue is depth. Johnson relies heavily on his starters, and they can only do so much.

The Frogs are in the bottom half of the Big 12 in almost every statistical category. They only rank among the top five teams in the league in free-throw percentage (third, 73.1%) and turnover margin (fourth, +1.26 a game).

Now, let's get reacquainted with the five TCU starters who will do all they can to pull off a mammoth upset at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kyan Anderson, No. 5

5-11, 175, jr. guard

— Jan. 25 stats vs. KU: 12 points, 2/8 FGs, 0/3 3s, 8/8 FTs, 1 rebound, 8 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover in 37 minutes.

TCU's best shooter — 47.1% field goals, 33 of 84 3-pointers, 85.4% free throws — gives the Horned Frogs much more than that.

Anderson is seventh in the Big 12 in scoring at 16.3 points a game, but he's also fourth in a assists with 4.9, second in the league in free-throw percentage (behind only Oklahoma State's Phil Forte, who hits 92.5%) and averages 1.3 steals in 34.6 minutes.

He has eight 20-plus point game this season and became a 1,000-point career scorer at TCU with 27 points at Iowa State.

Amric Fields, No. 4

6-9, 220, jr. forward

— Jan. 25 stats vs. KU: 13 points, 5/10 FGs, 1/2 3s, 2/4 FTs, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 1 block in 37 minutes.

The junior forward has led the Frogs in scoring six times this season while only playing in 16 games.

Fields averages 13.6 points and 6.1 rebounds and is a threat from three-point range, too, making 18 of 50 from deep to date.

Basically, the Frogs' offense goes as Fields and Anderson go. In Big 12 games, the two have combined to score 326 of TCU's 650 points and have 68 of the team's 124 assists.

Fields' seven rebounds against Baylor made him the team leader in that category for the fifth straight game.

Brandon Parrish, No. 11

6-6, 185, fr. guard

— Jan. 25 stats vs. KU: 15 points, 6/11 FGs, 2/3 3s, 1/2 FTs, 0 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 turnover, fouled out in 32 minutes.

The freshman has scored double digits 13 times in his first season, with a season-high of 18 against West Virginia.

Parrish averages 9.7 points and 3.3 rebounds, and has connected on 31 of his 84 3-pointers (36.9%).

He is shooting nearly 40% from the field in conference play.

Karviar Shepherd, No. 1

6-10, 225, fr. center

Kansas center Joel Embiid stuffs a shot by TCU center Karviar Shepherd during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas.

Kansas center Joel Embiid stuffs a shot by TCU center Karviar Shepherd during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 25 stats vs. KU: 8 points, 2/6 FGs, 4/4 FTs, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, 3 turnovers, 3 blocks, fouled out in 18 minutes.

The highest-rated player ever to wear the TCU uniform (No. 46 in the class of 2013 by Rivals.com), the big man has given the Horned Frogs a legit interior presence.

Shepherd averages 8.4 points, is 10th in the Big 12 with 6.9 rebounds and swats about 2.0 shots a game (fourth in the league).

He's a solid free-throw shooter, who hits 74.1% at the line this year (12th in the Big 12).

He didn't play that well in his first matchup with Kansas, and Embiid had something to do with that. If the Frogs stand a chance of sticking around with the Jayhawks in the rematch, they'll need a career day from the center whom KU once recruited.

Shepherd scored a career-high 15 points against Texas Tech and secured 11 rebounds, his best effort in Big 12 play, against Oklahoma.

Jarvis Ray, No. 22

6-6, 195, sr. forward

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins gets a put-back bucket against TCU guard Jarvis Ray during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins gets a put-back bucket against TCU guard Jarvis Ray during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 25 stats vs. KU: 8 points, 2/6 FGs, 4/5 FTs, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers in 23 minutes.

The only senior in the starting lineup is also the only senior in TCU's entire rotation.

Ray has started every game for the Horned Frogs this season, and averages 8.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 steals.

For a guard, he makes his presence felt on the glass, and has 28 offensive boards on the year.

He has only scored double digits in one Big 12 game this season: 11 on Jan. 11, vs. Baylor. In the eight games since, his best outing was against KU: eight points.

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Getting to know West Virginia

West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins rubs his mouth during a Jayhawk run on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins rubs his mouth during a Jayhawk run on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

That sneaky Bob Huggins. West Virginia's men's basketball coach must have chuckled to himself when his Mountaineers were picked seventh in the Big 12 preseason poll.

Huggy, the third-winningest active coach in college basketball (737 career victories) probably kept laughing inwardly during the non-conference schedule, as outsiders continued to write off WVU because of its early-season struggles.

All the while, West Virginia kept improving. Now here we are a week into February and the Mountaineers, though 14-9 overall, are in third place in the Big 12 with a 6-4 record — the same mark held by Oklahoma, the No. 21-ranked team that lost at WVU, 91-86, in overtime on Wednesday.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvo_78QHeR8

The victory over OU was just the latest in a string of key victories for West Virginia, which has won four of its last five games, beating Texas Tech, Baylor and Kansas State before knocking off the Sooners.

Three-point shooting and precise offense have made WVU's Big 12 success possible heading into Saturday's game at Allen Fieldhouse against No. 8 Kansas (17-5, 8-1).

In conference games, the Mountaineers have made 75 of their 206 three-pointers (36.4%). Their turnover numbers are even more impressive. Through 10 Big 12 games, WVU has averaged just 9.8 giveaways a game, compared to 13.7 for its opponents (West Virginia averages 7.0 steals a game, too). That's a Big 12-best turnover margin of + 3.9 a game.

When the Mountaineers miss long jumpers, they tend to track some down. They average 12.1 offensive boards a game in Big 12 play.

Nothing would make Huggy Bear happier Saturday than beating Kansas for the first time in his 21 seasons as a head coach — Huggins lost both games against the Jayhawks last season, went 0-3 vs. KU when he coached at Kansas State and lost to Kansas once as Cincinnati's head coach.

Let's meet the players who will try to help Huggins end his losing streak against the Jayhawks.

Juwan Staten, No. 3

6-1, 190, jr. guard

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnVDwKtjgTs

As the above clip proves, Staten is the most explosive player in a West Virginia uniform. Not only does he jump out of the gym, but he averages 18.1 points a game (second in the Big 12 to Melvin Ejim, Iowa State, 18.3) and 6.0 rebounds. Six rebounds. At 6-foot-1.

In Big 12 play, he's been even better, averaging a league-best 20.4 points and making 53% of his shots (second in the Big 12 to Thomas Gibson, K-State, 58%).

He rarely hurts WVU with his decisions, either. Staten dishes 5.5 assists a game in conference action (second in Big 12 to DeAndre Kane, Iowa State, 5.8), and he has one or fewer turnovers in 17 of his last 30 games, dating back to last year.

Much to the dismay of opposing coaches, Staten basically never leaves the court. He leads the Big 12 in minutes played at 37.4 a game. Amazingly, in conference games, he averages more than 40 minutes — 40.2 — because WVU has played two overtime games.

Really, the only thing he doesn't do is make three-pointers — 5-for-14 this season.

Eron Harris, No. 10

6-3, 195, so. guard

Kansas guard Evan Manning fouls West Virginia guard Eron Harris on the drive during the second half on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. At right is KU guard Niko Roberts.

Kansas guard Evan Manning fouls West Virginia guard Eron Harris on the drive during the second half on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. At right is KU guard Niko Roberts. by Nick Krug

If you watched the highlights in the intro from the Oklahoma game, you noticed a common audio refrain: "Eron Harris … for three!" He drilled 6 of 13 from deep against the Sooners.

Harris carries nearly as much of the scoring load as Staten. KU coach Bill Self said the two combine to form arguably the best backcourt in the Big 12.

Slightly bigger than his running mate, at 6-foot-3, Harris averages 17.5 points and 3.7 rebounds. He leads WVU with 64 three-pointers and a success rate of 42.7%.

Terry Henderson, No. 15

6-4, 200, so. guard

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOAX3xqKnGE

The third guard in the Mountaineers' starting lineup, Henderson averages 12.5 points a game and has produced double digits in 13 of his last 16 games.

He's not as lethal as Harris from behind the arc, but he has made 37 threes this season. He scored 17 points against OU, behind 3-for-8 shooting from three-point distance and going 4-for-4 at the foul line, where he shoots 83.6% on the year.

Devin Williams, No. 5

6-9, 255, fr. forward

A true interior player — a rarity in this lineup — Williams is the only WVU starter who won't take any shots outside. He hasn't attempted a three-pointer all season.

Williams is the biggest man in a relatively small lineup, and averages 8.8 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds. His 57 offensive rebounds are by far the most on the team.

The power forward has only made 40.7% of his shots in his freshman season, and he has five double-doubles. Williams pulled down 13 boards and scored 12 points at home against Oklahoma State, in an 73-72 loss.

Rémi Dibo, No. 0

6-7, 225, jr. forward

After tearing a meniscus in the preseason, the small forward recovered and became one of the most accurate three-point shooters on West Virginia's roster. Dibo is tied for second on the team in 3-pointers with 37, and has made them at a 40.7% clip.

He only averages 18.9 minutes a game this season, but Huggins started him each of the last two games. On the year, he averages 7.3 points and 3.2 rebounds. He had eight boards against Oklahoma.

West Virginia bench

Gary Browne, No. 14

6-1, 195, jr. guard

Kansas center Jeff Withey blocks a shot by West Virginia guard Gary Browne during the second half on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Jeff Withey blocks a shot by West Virginia guard Gary Browne during the second half on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

A veteran presence in a reserve role, Browne leads WVU in career games played with 87.

The experienced guard averages 5.9 points in 19.4 minutes, and he shoots 42.4% from the field. He played for the Puerto Rico national team and his known for his decision-making.

Nathan Adrian, No. 11

6-9, 230, fr. forward

Now he provides a spark off the bench, but earlier this season he started 11 games. The young big man was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week back on Dec. 30, 2013.

Adrian averages 5.0 points and 2.8 rebounds but where he really bothers opponents is on the perimeter. He can stretch the defense by spotting up behind the three-point line, where he's made 27 of 72 (37.5%) this season.

His rebounding numbers (2.8 a game in 17.2 minutes) and free-throw attempts (7-for-11) indicate he doesn't play very physically in the paint.

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Getting reacquainted with Baylor

Kansas players Naadir Tharpe, left, and Andrew Wiggins hound Baylor guard Brady Heslip (5) during the second half on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. Also pictures is Baylor forward Cory Jefferson.

Kansas players Naadir Tharpe, left, and Andrew Wiggins hound Baylor guard Brady Heslip (5) during the second half on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. Also pictures is Baylor forward Cory Jefferson. by Nick Krug

Baylor's free-fall through the Big 12 schedule appears to have stopped, or at least the Bears found a tree branch on which to grasp before crashing to the ground in the NIT forest.

Just when it seemed the losing and tumbling (out of the Top 25, down through the Big 12 standings and out of the list of teams worthy of making the NCAA Tournament) might turn the Bears' season into an unrecognizable pile of disappointment, Scott Drew's team ended a five-game losing skid by winning just its second Big 12 game of the year on Saturday — at Oklahoma State of all places.

The 76-70 victory over the Cowboys (then ranked No. 8 in the country) proved, at most, the people who voted Baylor into the top 10 back in December weren't completely off the mark or, at least, the Bears could beat a team in the Big 12 not named TCU.

The truth probably lies somewhere in between. The good news for Drew is his players shouldn't enter tonight's home game against No. 8 Kansas staggering. You'll remember the Bears (now 14-7 overall and 2-6 in the Big 12) lost, 78-68, at Kansas on Jan. 20.

As the score indicates, Baylor didn't play that poorly. The Bears out-rebounded KU, 31-29, pulled down 20 offensive rebounds on their 36 misses, and out-scored the Jayhawks, 15-8, in second-chance points. BU knocked down 13 of its 27 three-pointers (48.1%) to stick around, but went 9-for-20 at the free-throw line. The Bears only trailed by a point at Allen Fieldhouse with 15:30 left before Kansas pulled away.

Clearly, the Bears know they need to knock off Kansas (16-5, 7-1) to build their résumé back up and reinvigorate their season. They've taken to YouTube to try and get a packed house and an ideal home atmosphere for Tuesday's game at Ferrell Center.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6j4RZ06-6E

A noisy home arena won't hurt, but if Baylor wants to give KU a true test, it will need to keep pounding the offensive glass (14.5 offensive rebounds a game in Big 12 play) and knocking down three-pointers (the Bears make 8.13 a game in conference action).

Baylor beat KU in Waco, Texas, last season, and is the only team in the nation to have defeated the Jayhawks in each of the last two seasons.

Let's get reacquainted with the players who will try to make it three seasons in a row.

Cory Jefferson, No. 34

6-9, 220, jr. forward

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor maneuvers for a bucket against Baylor forward Cory Jefferson during the first half on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor maneuvers for a bucket against Baylor forward Cory Jefferson during the first half on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Stats Jan. 20 vs. KU: 16 points, 6 of 10 FGs, 2 of 2 3s, 2 of 4 FTs, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 turnovers, 1 steal.

In 23 of his last 28 games, Jefferson has scored in double figures. Though he has slowed down of late, going scoreless in the first half of each of Baylor's last three games, he has averaged 8.3 points in the second half during that stretch.

His 12.5 points and 8.4 rebounds lead the Bears, and he is shooting 52.5% from the floor this season.

Brady Heslip, No. 5

6-2, 180, sr. guard

Baylor guard Brady Heslip celebrates after a three against the Jayhawks during the first half on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Baylor guard Brady Heslip celebrates after a three against the Jayhawks during the first half on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Stats Jan. 20 vs. KU: 19 points, 6 of 10 FGs, 6 of 9 3s, 1 of 2 FTs, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover.

A super-sub when Baylor lost at Allen Fieldhouse a couple weeks ago, Heslip accounted for nearly half of the Bears' 13 thee-pointers.

The long-range assassin leads the Big 12 in three-pointers made per game (3.0) and is second in three-point percentage (47.3%), behind OSU's Phil Forte (48% entering Monday). Of his 298 career field goal attempts, 245 of them are from behind the arc.

As much as he gives Baylor an amazing scoring threat from three-point range, Heslip also rarely turns the ball over, averaging one giveaway every 55.1 minutes.

He's averaged 11.3 points this season, and just became a starter two games ago.

Kenny Chery, No. 1

5-11, 180, jr. guard

— Stats Jan. 20 vs. KU: 3 points, 1 of 8 FGs, 0 of 3 3s, 1 of 2 FTs, 1 rebound, 8 assists, 2 turnovers, 1 steal.

The point guard had to miss Baylor's win at OSU with an ankle injury. Drew and the Bears will be glad to have him back.

Chery's 2.6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio is third in the Big 12, and he's fourth in the league at 5.0 assists a game. In his last nine games, he passed out 42 assists and only gave the ball away 13 times.

The junior makes 85.1% of his free throws and averages 11 points a game.

Isaiah Austin, No. 21

7-1, 225, so. center

Kansas center Joel Embiid looks for an outlet as he is defended by Baylor players Isaiah Austin, left, and Brady Heslip during the first half on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Joel Embiid looks for an outlet as he is defended by Baylor players Isaiah Austin, left, and Brady Heslip during the first half on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Stats Jan. 20 vs. KU: 16 points, 6 of 15 FGs, 4 of 8 3s, 0 of 3 FTs, 5 rebounds (4 offensive), 0 assists, 1 turnover, 2 blocks, 2 steals.

Something about playing KU turned the big man three-crazy. Certainly it was part of the game plan — drawing KU posts, primarily Joel Embiid, away from the paint — but it also worked better than anyone could have anticipated.

Austin had made three from downtown all season before drilling a career-high four at Kansas. In Baylor's three games since, the center is 1-for-5 on three-pointers. Expect more bombs from the seven-footer at the Ferrell Center. It must make the sophomore feel even younger, because he hoisted 90 threes last season, compared to 23 so far in 2013-14.

BU really might need his threes to drop, too. Austin hasn't reached double figures since hit outburst at KU.

The center averages 10.2 points and 5.5 rebounds. Defensively, he leads the Big 12 with 2.7 blocks a game.

Royce O'Neale, No. 00

6-6, 220, jr. forward

— Stats Jan. 20 vs. KU: 8 points, 3 of 7 FGs, 1 of 3 3s, 1 of 2 FTs, 5 rebounds (4 offensive), 3 assists, 3 turnovers, 2 steals.

A strong passer for a small forward at 2.6 assists a game, he typically doesn't contribute much scoring at 5.9 points a game.

But his eight points against Kansas were the most he scored against any Big 12 team this season. He hurt the Jayhawks on the offensive glass, too, extending Bears possessions four times.

Baylor bench

Gary Franklin, No. 4

6-2, 190, sr. guard

— Stats Jan. 20 vs. KU: 0 poins, 0 for 2 FGs, 0 for 2 3s, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 2 steals in 10 minutes.

With Chery sidelined at Oklahoma State, Franklin went for 11 points, 5 assists and 3 steals in the Bears' critical road win on Saturday.

In seven of his last 17 games, Franklin has contributed double figures. He makes 39.8% of his threes, averages 1.6 makes a game from deep and 6.9 points a game.

Rico Gathers, No. 2

6-8, 270, so. forward

Kansas guard Frank Mason swoops in to the bucket against Baylor forward Rico Gathers during the second half on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Frank Mason swoops in to the bucket against Baylor forward Rico Gathers during the second half on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Stats Jan. 20 vs. KU: 6 points, 1 of 4 FGs, 4 for 7 FTs, 7 rebounds (4 offensive), 2 turnovers, 2 blocks in 19 minutes.

The backup big is a load in the paint, especially on the glass. Constantly beasting any player who gets in his way, the hard-working forward ranks third in the nation in offensive rebounds per minute (0.18) and total rebounds per minute (0.41).

Gathers came through with 14 points and 6 boards at OSU, and averages 7.9 points and 7.6 rebounds.

Taurean Prince, No. 35

6-7, 210, so. forward

— Stats Jan. 20 vs. KU: 0 points, 0 of 3 FGs, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 3 turnovers, 1 steal in 11 minutes as a starter.

Sometimes Prince comes up with much-needed production and sometimes Drew barely plays him enough minutes to make an impact.

Obviously, Prince was a non-factor at KU. Ditto for Baylor's Saturday win at Oklahoma State (3 points in 11 minutes). But in the two games in between he produced double digits both times. The forward had 12 points and 6 rebounds against Texas, and 11 points, two three-pointers and 3 rebounds against West Virginia.

During his past 10 games, the sophomore is averaging 10.8 points. On the year, he scores 8.1 a night.

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Getting to know the Longhorns

Texas men's basketball coach Rick Barnes, left, talks with Cameron Ridley in the first half of a NCAA college basketball game against Baylor, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, in Waco, Texas.

Texas men's basketball coach Rick Barnes, left, talks with Cameron Ridley in the first half of a NCAA college basketball game against Baylor, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, in Waco, Texas.

Maybe we should have known Rick Barnes would have his Texas Longhorns right back in the thick of the Big 12 hunt this year.

But after the Horns went 16-18 last season and lost in the first round of the CBI Tournament (yes, that is a thing; it's a rung below the postseason NIT) it seemed easy to think Texas would spend 2013-14 rebuilding.

Not exactly. With three straight wins over ranked opponents, Texas nabbed a ranking of its own, coming in at No. 25 in this week's poll. The Longhorns are 16-4 overall and 5-2 in the Big 12, which puts them in third place (a half-game behind Oklahoma) entering Saturday.

Suddenly, Texas is one of the surprise teams of the nation. But, really, we should have seen it coming. As KU coach Bill Self talked about Friday morning, last season was an anomaly for UT.

Prior to the Horns' cameo in the CBI, Barnes led Texas to the NCAA Tournament in each of his first 14 years with the program. In fact, UT reached the Sweet 16 five times in the past 12 years. Only 12 other programs in the nation have made it to that stage at least five times in that span: Duke (nine), Kansas (nine), Michigan State (seven), Connecticut (six), Kentucky (six), North Carolina (six), Syracuse (six), Wisconsin (six), Arizona (five), Pittsburgh (five), Louisville (five) and Xavier (five).

Anybody who has kept up with the Big 12 since its inception in 1998-99 knows what Texas is capable of under Barnes. Obviously, Kansas (winner of nine straight league titles) has the best record in that span at 208-43. Behind the Jayhawks, in second, is Texas (172-79), with 23 more wins than Oklahoma.

Texas has won five straight games — vs. Texas Tech, at West Virginia, vs. Iowa State, vs. Kansas State and at Baylor — entering Saturday's showdown at the Erwin Center with No. 6 KU (16-4, 7-0).

So, how are the Longhorns doing it?

In Big 12 games, they are hitting 45.6% of their shots (second to KU's 54.4%), they lead the league in field-goal percentage defense at 40.6%, they're second in three-point field goal percentage defense (31.3%, only slightly behind Texas Tech's 30.6%), they pull down a league-best 38.4 rebounds a game and they swat 5.6 shots a game (second in the Big 12 to KU's 5.9 blocks).

In its current win streak, Texas is holding opponents to 66.6 points a game on 39.2% shooting and 25.9% from three-point land.

Let's meet the players who make it happen on both ends of the floor.

Jonathan Holmes, No. 10

6-8, 240, jr. forward

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTxiFpuJqWw

Holmes owns the signature play of the Longhorns' season to date, with a buzzer-beating three-pointer from the right corner that beat Kansas State, 67-64, on Jan. 21 in Austin. On the season, he has converted 19 of his 50 from downtown.

He and freshman guard Isaiah Taylor lead Texas with 15 double-figure scoring games so far this season. Holmes averages 12.9 points and 7.4 rebounds a game.

His board numbers are a little better in Big 12 games, in which he averages 8.3, third-best in the league.

Javan Felix, No. 3

5-11, 195, so. guard

Kansas guard Ben McLemore and Texas guard Javan Felix look for a possession call from a game official during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Kansas guard Ben McLemore and Texas guard Javan Felix look for a possession call from a game official during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

The leading returning scorer from the disappointing 2012-13 Longhorns (6.8 points), Felix has scored in double figures 14 times in his second year at Texas.

This season, Felix is averaging 12.2 points and 3.0 assists. But he began to step up his game when UT got to its conference schedule. Through seven Big 12 games, the sophomore leads Texas with 15.6 points per game, and has made 40 of 97 field goals. In non-conference games, he shot 32.4% from the floor and averaged 10.3 points.

Felix dished five assists, with no turnovers, in the Longhorns' win over Baylor.

Isaiah Taylor, No. 1

6-1, 170, fr. guard

Taylor had a career night, scoring 27 points at Baylor this past Saturday, as you can see in the video clip below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzPRD7qjXPM

The young floor leader, who made 10 of 18 shots, seven of eight free throws, and had three steals and three assists, said after the game that the team's bigs, Cameron Ridley and Holmes, opened things up for the Longhorns' guards.

During UT's five-game winning streak, Taylor has averaged 13.4 points and 2.8 rebounds a game. On the year, he has put up 11.7 points and 3.7 assists a game.

Cameron Ridley, No. 55

6-9, 285, so. center

The big man's 8.9 rebounds a game in Big 12 play are second only to Oklahoma's Ryan Spangler (11.1). Ridley averages 3.1 offensive rebounds and 2.4 blocks in league games.

He swatted away five shots against Iowa State, marking the fourth time in his career he blocked at least five in one game. In fact, Ridley blocked six twice this season, against BYU (in a loss in November) and UT-Arlington.

The Longhorns' overall leading rebounder this season (7.8 a game) — and shot blocker (48 this season) — also scores 11.2 points an outing.

Demarcus Holland, No. 2

6-2, 185, so. guard

Kansas guard Travis Releford pressures Texas guard Demarcus Holland during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Travis Releford pressures Texas guard Demarcus Holland during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

At 8.6 points a game, Holland doesn't light up the scoreboard too frequently, but he's a glue guy that makes Texas successful.

Even with a 6-2, 185-pound frame, the sophomore guard averages 5.0 rebounds. Holland fills his role-player duties so well that Barnes plays him 31.4 minutes a game. Holland leads Texas with 24 steals, and is third in assists (52).

Texas bench

Connor Lammert, No. 21

6-9, 235, so. forward

Oklahoma State post Kamari Murphy (21) holds his head and Texas forward Connor Lammert (21) applauds after Murphy was called for a foul during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Oklahoma State post Kamari Murphy (21) holds his head and Texas forward Connor Lammert (21) applauds after Murphy was called for a foul during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) by Sue Ogrocki

Sixth on the team in minutes (19.1 a game), the backup big is the Longhorns' fourth-best rebounder (4.8 a game). Lammert adds 5.5 points per game and shoots 50% from the floor.

Four times this season, Lammert has scored in double figures, the latest coming at Oklahoma State, where he contributed 11 on 5-for-8 shooting.

Prince Ibeh, No. 44

6-10, 250, so. center

Much like Ridley, Ibeh alters or blocks shots regularly. The backup center has turned away 39 of his opponents' shots and grabs 3.5 rebounds a game in just 13.6 minutes.

He's averaging 2.1 blocks in the Longhorns' last 14 games, has blocked at least three shots on four different occasions this year and adds 5.0 points.

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Getting reacquainted with Iowa State

Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg watches late in the second half on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg watches late in the second half on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

There is a reason Iowa State men's basketball coach Fred Hoiberg looked annoyed by the end of the night on Jan. 13 at Hilton Coliseum.

One of the better offensive teams in not only the Big 12, but also the nation, the Cyclones — who lead the Big 12 in scoring, at 84.8 points a game — went uncharacteristically cold against Kansas in a 77-70 home loss.

This season, ISU has made 47.7 percent of its shots. Against KU, the Cyclones made 31.4 percent. They took 70 shots and made just 22.

Free throws? Iowa State shoots 70.3 percent for the year. That night? Not that far off, but still below average, at 64.7 percent.

But the stat that had to hurt the most was three-point field goal percentage. The Cyclones have hit 35 percent from deep this season — 157 makes on 449 tries. Against Kansas, though, they missed 21 from behind the arc. Four-for-25. Sixteen percent.

Iowa State missed so many shots that it typically makes that the Jayhawks won a Big 12 road game even though they turned the ball over 24 times.

As usual, turnovers weren't an issue for the Cyclones against Kansas (they committed eight and totaled 12 assists). ISU averages 18.2 assists a game (first in Big 12, second in the nation to Creighton's 18.6) and the Cyclones are elite in assist-to-turnover ratio, too. At 1.75 assists for every turnover, ISU leads the Big 12 and is second in NCAA Division I, behind Creighton's 1.85.

ISU's loss to Kansas marked the second setback in a three-game skid, but the Cyclones recovered this past Saturday by beating Kansas State, 81-75, in Ames, Iowa. Wouldn't you know it, they were on from downtown, going 9-for-18 from three-point range.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JZKf8LhPsc

Their four three-point baskets against Kansas and 16-percent shooting from long range in that loss are both season lows, and the Cyclones average 8.72 successful threes a game. So don't expect Iowa State's top players to be shy about hoisting from deep in tonight's rematch at Allen Fieldhouse, where No. 16 ISU (15-3 overall, 3-3 Big 12) will try to beat No. 6 Kansas (15-4, 6-0) in Lawrence for the first time since 2005.

Melvin Ejim, No. 3

6-6, 220, sr. forward

Kansas forward Tarik Black pulls a rebound from Iowa State forward Melvin Ejim during the first half on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas forward Tarik Black pulls a rebound from Iowa State forward Melvin Ejim during the first half on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. 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.

Ejim leads the Big 12 in scoring (17.9 points), has posted double digits in 20 straight games and has scored 20 or more seven times this season. He does it by shooting a high percentage (51.5 percent) from the floor and scoring at the free-throw line, where he makes 77.3 percent.

The versatile forward also snags 7.3 rebounds a game, passes out 2.0 assists and has hit 22 three-pointers.

If he remains at the top of the Big 12 scoring list, he'll be the first Cyclone to lead the conference since Marcus Fizer, who did it back-to-back seasons in 1999 and 2000.

DeAndre Kane, No. 50

6-4, 200, sr. guard

Kansas guards Andrew Wiggins, left, and Naadir Tharpe look to tie up Iowa State guard DeAndre Kane during the first half on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas guards Andrew Wiggins, left, and Naadir Tharpe look to tie up Iowa State guard DeAndre Kane during the first half on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. 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.

Named to the Wooden Award Midseason Top 25, Kane does it all. The savvy guard averages 16.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists. In fact, he's the only player in the nation averaging at least 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

What's more, his scoring average has gone up, to 19 points a game, in conference play.

Kane doesn't take a ton of threes, but he has hit 16 of his 46 tries. Athletic and strong off the dribble, as well as in transition, he shoots 49.2 percent from the floor and forces opponents to foul him (he has made 86 of 135 free throws).

Kane will take his man's lunch, too. In his last six games, he is averaging 2.6 steals.

Georges Niang, No. 31

6-7, 240, so. forward

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

The big man with range recovered well from an off night against Kansas. In ISU's two games since, Niang has gone 13-for-25 from the floor and 8-for-13 from three-point land. He has helped the Cyclones make 20 of 50 threes since their forgettable three-point shooting night against KU.

Niang, who has scored 18 points in two straight games, averages 15.4 points and 4.2 rebounds. Plus, the big guy can pass the ball with purpose. Averaging 3.7 assists, Niang is the only non-guard among the Big 12's top 10 assist leaders, where he currently ranks eighth.

Dustin Hogue, No. 22

6-6, 215, jr. forward

Kansas forward Perry Ellis defends against a shot from Iowa State forward Dustin Hogue during the first half on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis defends against a shot from Iowa State forward Dustin Hogue during the first half on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

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

A high-energy, JUCO transfer who took no time fitting in at ISU, his 9.3 boards a game are second only to Oklahoma's Ryan Spangler (10.1) in the Big 12. Hogue grabs 2.4 of those a game on the offensive end of the floor.

He's a capable scorer, too, averaging 11.9 points. Hogue has scored in double figures 12 times and put up four double-doubles this season.

Naz Long, No. 15

6-4, 205, so. guard

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

The guy only averages 7.7 points a game, but he leads Iowa State with 34 three-pointers this season. His 42 percent accuracy from three-point range is fourth-best in the Big 12.

Eight times this season, he has made multiple three-pointers in a game. If he can give the Cyclones a little offensive spark this time around, they just might be able to keep up with KU.

ISU bench

Monté Morris, No. 11

6-2, 170, fr. guard

Kansas forward Perry Ellis battles for the ball with Iowa State guard Monte Morris during the first half on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. At left is ISU forward Georges Niang.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis battles for the ball with Iowa State guard Monte Morris during the first half on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. At left is ISU forward Georges Niang. 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.

The freshman's playing time has increased as Hoiberg's confidence in him grows.

Morris averages 6.3 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists. In Big 12 games, he is shooting 53.3 percent, but does just as much good for the ISU offense with his ball-handling. His assist-to-turnover ratio is 9.5-to-1 in conference games. In his last 328 minutes on the floor, he has committed only five turnovers, while dishing 42 assists.

His 1.7 steals a game are third in the Big 12.

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.

Another key freshman off the bench for ISU, his claim to fame these days is making four of his six threes in a win over Kansas State on Saturday.

Like Morris, Thomas takes care of the ball. While his averages of 6.7 points and 2.6 rebounds provide a little production off the bench, what's really impressive is he has only turned the ball over one time since Iowa State won at BYU, back on Nov. 20. The lone mishap came on Saturday against K-State, breaking a streak of 13 straight turnover-free games.

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