Eight-time defending Big 12 regular season champion Kansas takes aim at its next league crown, as it opens conference play on Wednesday night against the Iowa State Cyclones.
Bill Self's Jayhawks extended the nation's second-longest homecourt winning streak to 30 games by closing out non-conference play with a hard-fought 69-62 victory over a dangerous Temple squad on Sunday. The win was the 11th straight for Kansas and its 12th win in 13 games this season. The lone loss came back on Nov. 13 against Michigan State.
Fred Hoiberg's Cyclones are off to a fast start as well, posting a 10-3 record heading into Big 12 action. Iowa State has won four straight entering this game and six wins in the last seven games, including and 80-70 win over Yale on New Year's Day.
Kansas owns a 171-59 advantage in the all-time series with Iowa State, including a 47-9 mark in games played at the Allen Fieldhouse. Iowa State ended a 12-game skein against the Jayhawks with a 72-64 win in Ames last year.
Iowa State has gotten it done with impressive offensive numbers this season, leading the Big 12 and ranking seventh nationally in scoring at 82.0 ppg. Consistency has been the team's strength, scoring 80 or more points nine times this year. ISU is the only team in the nation to score at least 70 points in every game. The scoring depth is headlined by four players in double figures and two more just under that mark. Will Clyburn leads the team with 14.1 ppg. Tyrus McGee is a close second at 13.8 ppg, followed by Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim with 10.8 and 10.5 ppg, respectively. Ejim has been a beast on the boards as well, hauling in 9.2 rebounds per game.
The Cyclones shot just .393 from the floor overall, but still found a way to post 80 points in a 10-point win over Yale. Six Cyclones netted double figures in a balanced performance. Clyburn paced the team with 17 points. McGee and Niang both posted 14 points in the win. Ejim recorded a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Chris Babb added 11 points as well, while Korie Lucious tacked on 10 points.
Kansas won't shy away from running with the Cyclones. The Jayhawks have actually thrived at both ends this season, averaging 77.7 ppg, while leading the conference with a +18.5 scoring margin. The team also leads the Big 12 in field-goal percentage (.499) and blocked shots (8.4 per game). Ben McLemore has made an immediate impact in his first season on the floor in Lawrence, leading Kansas with 15.6 ppg. Senior center Jeff Withey (13.4 ppg, 8.2 rpg) has flexed his muscle in the paint and leads the nation in blocked shots (5.2 per game). Travis Releford (13.4 ppg) and Elijah Johnson (10.0 ppg) add to the scoring depth, with Johnson leading the way in assists (5.2 apg).
Temple was able to go toe-to-toe with Kansas in Lawrence over the weekend, but the Jayhawks still prevailed. Kevin Young led the way with a double-double consisting of 16 points and 10 rebounds. Releford and McLemore chipped in with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Withey came close to a triple-double in the win, posting eight points, 11 rebounds and nine blocks.