Cyclones collide with Jayhawks in Big 12 semifinals

Kansas City, MO ( - After a pair of thrilling quarterfinal matchups, the fourth-seeded Iowa State Cyclones and the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks will square off in the semifinal round of the Big 12 Conference Tournament at the Sprint Center on Friday night.

The winner of this game will take on either Baylor or Texas for the Big 12 Tournament title on Saturday.

Kansas defeated Iowa State twice in January, with both teams ranked in the Top 25 at the time. The Jayhawks a commanding advantage in the all-time series with the Cyclones, 176-59.

Iowa State began its stay in the tournament with a 91-85 victory over Kansas State in the quarterfinals, its sixth win in the past eight games to surge to 24-7 overall. In a game that went through 11 ties and eight lead changes, the Cyclones surged ahead for good following a Naz Long 3-pointer with 2:53 left. They finished the contest shooting 50 percent from the field (8-of-18 from 3- point range) and won the rebounding battle by a 38-29 margin. Pacing five players in double figures was Melvin Ejim with 24 points to go with 10 rebounds. Dustin Hogue also tallied a double-double with 19 points and 10 boards, Georges Niang netted 18 points, Long and DeAndre Kane poured in 14 and 11, respectively, and Monte' Morris got the ample scorers involved with 10 assists.

ISU possesses a top-10 scoring offense nationally with 82.8 ppg on 46.9 percent shooting, with Ejim, the Big 12 Player of the Year, leading the way with 18.4 ppg and 8.7 rpg. DeAndre Kane stuffs the stat sheet with 16.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg and 5.8, while Niang (16.3 ppg, 3.6 apg) and Hogue (10.6 ppg, 8.6 rpg) have been impressive as well.

After enjoying a bye in the opening round, Kansas (24-8) had the task of taking on a surging Oklahoma State squad on Thursday and battled into overtime before conquering in a 77-70 decision, closing the game on a 9-0 run to advance. After exploding for 41 points in the regular-season finale, Andrew Wiggins had another outstanding performance with 30 points on 9-of-17 from the field and 9-of-10 at the free-throw line. Wayne Selden Jr. scored 14 points in the winning effort, while Perry Ellis (nine points, eight rebounds), Naadir Tharpe (eight points, seven assists) and Tarik Black (12 rebounds) rounded out a strong effort by the starting five.

The Jayhawks lag slightly behind Iowa State in terms of scoring offense (79.5 ppg), but their field goal percentage (.496) ranks fifth-best in the nation, although they have been hindered in frontcourt with Joel Embiid (11.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg) out indefinitely. Wiggins has been strong during his freshman campaign with 17.3 ppg and has played especially well in four games without Embiid in the lineup (24.3 ppg). Ellis (13.1 ppg), Selden (10.2 ppg) and Tharpe (8.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg) bring plenty of depth to the squad.