(5)Iowa State Cyclones vs (1)Kansas Jayhawks
Sprint Center | Kansas City, MO
Time – 6:30 PM CT | TV – ESPNU/Big 12 Network*
In a season full of heartbreaks, the Iowa State faithful has gotten over nearly all of them. The lone exception was on a big nationally televised stage, against the biggest conference rival, and right in front of all the fans inside Hilton Coliseum.
Everyone forgot about the first game against Kansas when Ben McLemore’s lucky 3-point bank shot to tie things up at the end of regulation in Lawrence. That dagger didn’t hurt as much as the refs not calling an obvious charge call on Elijah Johnson when he was powering through Georges Niang to the hoop, and then Niang collecting a foul himself on the play.
Tonight is another shot at redemption for the Iowa State Cyclones.
The worries of making it to the NCAA Tournament are finally over, they sealed the deal Thursday afternoon in a thrilling double-digit comeback against the Oklahoma Sooners.
Now it’s just getting revenge on the top-ranked team in the conference, and one of the best teams in the nation for a chance to win the Big 12 championship.
It’s only natural that they play for a third time in a neutral site. Think the Jayhawks have the upper hand with the event in Kansas City? Cyclone fans call that place their second home. A jam-packed Sprint Center will have one of the best environments in a great night for college hoops.
Honestly, there doesn’t even need to be a preview written about tonight. It’s Iowa State against Kansas. That preview writes itself.
Projected Starting Lineups
According to athletic website’s game notes
Iowa State Cyclones
- Chris Babb (2, G) – 6’5, 225 lbs
- Korie Lucious (13, G) – 5’11”, 170 lbs
- Will Clyburn (21, G) – 6’7″, 210 lbs
- Melvin Ejim (3, F) – 6’6″, 230 lbs
- Georges Niang (31, F) – 6’7″, 245 lbs
- Elijah Johnson (15, G) – 6’4″, 195 lbs
- Ben McLemore (23, G) – 6’5″, 195 lbs
- Travis Releford (24, G) – 6’6″, 210 lbs
- Kevin Young (40, F) – 6’8″, 190 lbs
- Jeff Withey (5, C) – 7’0″, 235 lbs
Keys to the Game
- Keep shooting 3’s. No matter if the shots are falling down early or not, the point is that they will at some point. One of Kansas’ slight weaknesses is defending the three, and Iowa State must exploit it. Things probably won’t be as bad as the 2-18 start they had against Oklahoma.
- Melvin Ejim needs to bring his game from Thursday. He’s hit hard times with foul trouble late in the season, and he was the only one that wasn’t productive in the near-upset at home. Ejim did have 19 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists in the game at Lawrence, and he’s capable of bringing needed size to contend with Jeff Withey.
- Move the ball around and take better shots. There were clearly nerves with the Cyclones as they had some bad-looking shots and didn’t make great decisions overall yesterday. Korie Lucious became more of a facilitator early, then the team found chemistry between Will Clyburn and Ejim aiding them in a big comeback. There’s no more talk of being on the bubble. Come out with controlled passion and focus on a better start shooting the ball.
The excitement at the Sprint Center will be at higher level then we’ve seen in this tournament yet. As much as the Iowa State Cyclones want this victory on this stage, they just haven’t done enough in the season to prove they can. They always have a chance to beat any team at Hilton Coliseum, but away from Ames it’s unproven if they can strongly finish a game. There’s no question ISU will play with them throughout and they could definitely beat them. But until they take that next step, I have Kansas moving on to play their in-state rivals after defeating Iowa State in a close game that of course goes into overtime for a third straight time.
Jayhawks 88, Cyclones 85 (in overtime)