Ames, IA (SportsNetwork.com) - A Top-25 matchup is on tap in the Big 12, as the ninth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks and 11th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones collide on Saturday night at the Hilton Coliseum.
Bill Self's Jayhawks are in the midst of a gauntlet in their schedule, as they are going to play three straight ranked foes. The team opened the set with a 67-57 win over 24th-ranked Oklahoma State on Tuesday and will finish with a home date against 18th-ranked Oklahoma next week. Kansas is sitting at an impressive 14-2 on the year, with a 3-0 start to league play. The Jayhawks enter this contest on a five-game win streak.
Fred Hoiberg's Cyclones have been impressive in their own right. Iowa State is sporting a 12-3 overall record, which includes a 2-1 start to Big 12 play. The team is also in the midst of a tough run, with Kansas representing the third straight ranked opponent on the docket. The Cyclones opened the treacherous run with a 74-72 win over nationally-ranked West Virginia, but that was followed by a heart-breaking 74-73 setback at No. 22 Baylor on Wednesday.
This marks the 236th all-time meeting in a series that dates all the way back to 1908. Kansas holds a 175-60 advantage and has won five of the last six and 18 of the last 20 meetings, overall. Iowa State won the last meeting though, a 93-84 decision in the semifinals of the 2014 Big 12 Tournament.
Kansas didn't shoot the ball particularly well against Oklahoma State, connecting on just 37.2 percent from the floor, but the Jayhawks held the Cowboys to an even uglier 31.4-percent effort in posting a 10-point win. Kansas owned a huge edge in rebounding (43-26) and outscored OSU at the free- throw line, 32-22. Frank Mason III led Kansas in the win, just missing a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds. Kelly Oubre Jr. added 14 points to the cause.
The Jayhawks aren't putting up gaudy offensive numbers this season, but their modest numbers (70.9 ppg on .433 shooting) hold up thanks to strong defensive play. Kansas is limiting foes to just 62.8 ppg, on a mere .402 shooting, while maintaining a strong +7.1 rebounding margin. Mason is both the team's top scoring threat (12.4 ppg) and its primary distributor (4.3 apg). Perry Ellis provides frontcourt balance with 12.2 ppg and a team-high 6.4 rpg. Wayne Selden Jr. (9.0 ppg) and Cliff Alexander (8.2 ppg) give the team limited scoring depth.
While Kansas has found success at the defensive end of the floor, Iowa State is offensive-minded. The Cyclones are one of the top scoring teams in the nation at 79.9 ppg and are getting it done at a highly-efficient .488 shooting. The 3-pointer is a huge weapon in the team's overall arsenal, averaging 8.0 treys per contest. ISU boasts of some of the best scoring depth in the Big 12, as all five starters are averaging double figures. Georges Niang leads the team with 14.9 ppg. Bryce Dejean-Jones is second at 12.9 ppg, followed by Naz Long (12.5 ppg), Dustin Hogue (11.3 ppg) and Monte Morris (10.1 ppg). Long is the team's resident sniper, shooting .426 from behind the arc with 43 3-pointers to his credit. His 2.9 treys per game is tied for first in the Big 12.
Baylor took a huge lead into the intermission, leading 46-34 at the break, but Iowa State came battling back before falling by just a single-point to the Bears in Waco on Tuesday. After shooting just .385 from the floor in the first half, ISU delivered on a .533 clip in the second half. Long was a perfect 5- of-5 from long range and finished with 19 points. Dejean-Jones added 14 points, while Morris and Niang chipped in 11 and 10 points, respectively. Morris had an impressive stat line in the loss, adding nine assists and seven rebounds to his scoring total.