Lawrence, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - A Top 25 showdown is on tap at the Allen Fieldhouse on Wednesday evening, as the sixth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks square off with the 16th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones in a key Big 12 tilt.
The nine-time Big 12 champion Jayhawks are positioning themselves for another title, as they have run out to a flawless 6-0 mark in conference play thus far. Bill Self's squad is playing some of its best basketball of late. After knocking off four straight nationally-ranked foes, Kansas avoided a letdown this past weekend, blowing out TCU on the road, 91-69.
Fred Hoiberg's Cyclones are 15-3 overall and have some marquee wins to their credit, knocking off Michigan, Iowa and Texas thus far. The team continued to bolster its resume with last weekend's 81-75 win over nationally-ranked Kansas State. The victory ended a three-game losing streak for Iowa State and moved the team to 3-3 in league play.
Kansas has won four straight meetings and 17 of the last 18 overall to take a 174-59 all-time series lead. KU is seeking the regular-season sweep after posting a 77-70 win in Ames on Jan. 13. The Jayhawks hold a 89-15 edge in Lawrence and a 48-9 advantage at the Allen Fieldhouse, including wins in the last eight meetings there.
After winning its first 14 games of the season, Iowa State has started to return to the pack a little bit, with losses in three of the last four games. Still, the Cyclones remain dangerous, leading the Big 12 in scoring (84.8), assists (18.2), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7) and three-point field goals made (8.7). The scoring pool is deep for ISU, with four of the five starters in double figures. Melvin Ejim leads the team with 17.9 ppg, while also grabbing 7.3 rpg. DeAndre Kane is the new edition to the roster and has made an immediate impact with 16.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per outing. Georges Niang (15.4 ppg) and Dustin Hogue (11.9 ppg, 9.3 rpg) add to ISU's firepower.
Iowa State shot a scorching 61.5 percent from the floor in the first half to take a 12-point lead over Kansas State into intermission. The Cyclones cooled off considerably after the break (35.7 percent), but were able to hold on for the win. Ejim just missed a double-double, finishing with 20 points and nine rebounds. Niang poured in 18 points, followed by Matt Thomas (14 pts) and Kane (10 pts). Hogue netted eight points, but grabbed a team-best 12 boards.
Freshman Andrew Wiggins scored a career-high 27 points to lead the Jayhawks to the easy win over the Horned Frogs last time out. Kansas shot a sterling 57.4 percent from the floor and held a 40-24 rebounding advantage in the rout. Fellow freshmen Joel Embiid (14 points and three blocks) and Wayne Selden Jr. (12 points), got into the act as well, while sophomore Perry Ellis (eight points) grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds.
The Jayhawks have been ultra-efficient this season, ranking fourth nationally at an impressive .510 shooting percentage from the floor, leading to a hefty 79.6 ppg. Kansas has also been dominant on the glass with a +7.3 rebounding margin. A young squad that features three freshmen, one sophomore and one junior in the starting lineup, is peaking at the right time. Wiggins was the star recruit and has played well for the most part, leading the Jayhawks in scoring at 15.8 ppg. Ellis is second in the scoring column at 12.9 ppg. Embiid has burst on the scene as one of the nation's most talented big men, shooting .667 from the floor, while averaging 11.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game.