Iowa State (14-1, 2-1) lost their first game of the season on Saturday, but all eyes were on DeAndre Kane when he fell to the floor with under a minute to go. The team carried him off, and he remains a game-time decision before tip-off.
Kansas (11-4, 2-0) is coming off of two great wins in their gauntlet of a start in Big 12 play. Despite their record, they’ve been tested with the strongest schedule in the entire nation. If there’s anybody that won’t be phased by Hilton Magic, it’s the Jayhawks.
(15)Kansas Jayhawks vs (8)Iowa State Cyclones
James H. Hilton Coliseum | Ames, Iowa
Tip-off: Monday, Jan. 13, 8:00 PM CT | TV: ESPN
Looking ahead, Kansas will look to go 3-0 before finishing off January with Oklahoma State, Baylor, and the second game against the Cyclones. Only a road game at TCU is the game that looks easiest, but it certainly wasn’t easy for the Jayhawks that struggled to score for nearly the entire first half there last season.
Star player Andrew Wiggins rebounded after going 2-of-9 from the field against Oklahoma, grabbing a season-high 22 points and five rebounds against Kansas State. He, along with Kansas, are starting to turn things around after a 9-4 start to the season, and that’s not a record to scoff at with such a demanding schedule. All four losses are against teams that are still ranked in the AP top 25 (as of Sunday night).
UPDATE (3:30 PM CT): Sideline reporter Holly Rowe tweeted earlier today, showing Kane participating in shootaround.
— Holly Rowe (@sportsiren) January 13, 2014
UPDATE 2 (4:30 PM CT): Sources tell CBS Sports that Kane will indeed play.
BREAKING —- Iowa State guard DeAndre Kane will play tonight against Kansas, source tells @CBSSports….
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) January 13, 2014
- 233rd meeting (Kansas leads all-time record 173-59).
- Kansas has a 23-19 record at Hilton Coliseum.
- Melvin Ejim is averaging 12.3 points and 8.3 rebounds in seven games against Kansas.
Players to watch
- Kansas freshman center Joel Embiid (#21, 7-0, 250 lbs) has been continuing to boost his points per game average throughout the season (now at 10.5) as he’s seeing more playing time on the court. He shouldn’t be as much of a threat on the offensive boards like Oklahoma’s Ryan Spangler, but his size will cause problems. Embiid has been very efficient from the field (65.9 percent) and had a double-double against Toledo and San Diego State.
- Georges Niang (#31, 6-7, 240 lbs) is averaging 15.7 points in three games against Kansas. The sophomore shot the ball better against Oklahoma than Baylor (18.3 increase in field goal percentage), but he’s gone 0-of-6 from 3-point range in the last two games.
- Kansas sophomore forward Perry Ellis (#34, 6-8, 225) has been inconsistent as of late, alternating great performances of 20+ points and 10+ rebounds with single-digit outputs since December. If we’re using the trends, that means he’s due for a good game against Iowa State after getting 12 points and five rebounds against Kansas State. He had 22 points (6-of-8 from the field, 10-of-12 from the free throw line) and 11 rebounds at Oklahoma.
What to watch for
Obviously, all eyes will be on DeAndre Kane if he’s able to play, but it’s a question of how much he’ll actually have an impact. If he does play, he’ll likely be more of a facilitator and get the entire team going. Iowa State thrives off of ball movement, and one of the many reasons they lost their first game of the season on Saturday was a lower amount of assists (15) on field goals made (34).
To make up for Kane’s injury, everyone has to step up their play. Niang needs to avoid foul trouble and hopefully drain some 3’s. He had a solid 14 points, six rebounds, and three assists against the Sooners and replicating that performance would be ideal.
It will be another tough assignment for Hogue, but he got beat badly by Spangler in his last game and he needs to be stronger on the boards against Ellis and Embiid.
If Kane isn’t on the floor, the biggest problem is matching up with Wiggins defensively. Similar to Kane, Wiggins impacts the rebounding game and is 3rd on the team averaging 5.4 boards per game. He could have a career night if he’s able to get his game going, and I expect him to have a great night unless he can’t find his rhythm in a hostile environment.
And yes, Hilton Coliseum will be insane. Despite the loss, people were still lining up and camping for the game as early as Sunday. They know a win over Kansas would give them a major advantage in competing for the Big 12 regular season belt, getting the first seed in the conference tournament, and one of the top two seeds in the NCAA Tournament.
Plus, Cyclone fans are still irate about how they lost to Kansas in the first two meetings last year.
Iowa State will likely lose the rebounding battle and Wiggins could have a great game, but there’s still something about watching the Cyclones run Baylor off the court in the second half last Tuesday. The arena will be even louder with the students back, and ISU didn’t let Baylor’s size bother them. 3-point shots also seem to fall better at Hilton than on the road for Iowa State.
Kansas still has a younger, growing team. All the misfortunes of last year haven’t been seen in this Cyclone squad, and redemption will be on the way with rabid fans so packed full of energy that the Monster corporation couldn’t re-create in their drinks.
IAST 87, KAN 85 (Odds: IAST -2, O153)