The Kansas Jayhawks (12-1) kick off their run towards nine straight and record 56th conference title Wednesday night when the Iowa State Cyclones (10-3) visit Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks have won 21 straight conference openers with 9 of those 21 wins at home.
Iowa State comes into the game leading the Big 12 in scoring (82.0 ppg), rebounding (43.4 rpg) and rebound margin (+10.8). The Cyclones average 16.8 assists per game, 8.2 steals per game and shoot 45.8% from the field (35.8% from three).
The Cyclones are led by guard Will Clyburn’s 14.1 points per game, but the Clones have a total of 6 players that average 9 or more points per game. Guard Tyrus McGee, who has been the spark off the bench for the Cyclones, averages 13.4 points per game and leads the Big 12 in three point field goal percentage at 48.1%. McGee is also the top steals man for Iowa State. Freshman Georges Niang, who is a former high school teammate of future Jayhawk Wayne Selden, averages 10.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Forward Melvin Ejim nearly averages a double double at 10.5 points per game and his Big 12 leading 9.4 rebounds per game. Michigan State transfer Korie Lucious leads the Clones in assists at 5.4 apg to go along with his 9.7 points per game.
But……. Iowa State’s three losses have come to the teams most fans have heard of on their schedule. Cincinnati, UNLV and Iowa. Their wins have come against teams like Southern, Alabama A&M, Campbell (not the soup), North Carolina A&T, BYU (best win), Florida Gulf Coast, Omaha, Drake, UMKC and Yale.
The Jayhawks average 77.7 points per game and lead the Big 12 in scoring margin at +18.5. Kansas also leads the conference in field goal percentage (49.9%) and blocked shots (8.4 per). The Jayhawks are led by dynamic freshman Ben McLemore’s 15.6 points per game. McLemore is also KU’s biggest threat from three and is second on the team in steals. Captain Swat Jeff Withey averages 13.4 points per game while leading the Jayhawks in rebounding at 8.2 rpg and in blocked shots at 5.2 per game, which also leads the country. Travis Releford has been hot like he’s playing NBA Jam as of late. Over his last 10 games Releford is hitting 75% of his shots from the field, 66.7% from three and leads the team in steals. Releford is tied in scoring with Withey at 13.4 points per game, and his 63.6% shooting from the field leads the Jayhawks. 63.6% by a perimeter player is scary, scary good. Elijah Johnson leads the Jayhawks in assists, second on the team in three’s and throws in 10 points per game. Kevin Young, who brings energy like he stole Iron Man’s arc reactor (by the way – someone actually has enough time to write about who would win in a fight – Iron Man or Thor – LINK ) averages 7.3 points per game and is second on the team with 7.0 rebounds per game.
Kansas leads the series 171-59 and has won 12 of the last 13.
KU is looking to with their 12th straight game when the play Iowa State. During the Bill Self era at Kansas – the Jayhawks have won 10 or more games in a row 12 times.
With the win on Wednesday night the Jayhawks will go for number 13 in a row at Texas Tech on Saturday at 3:00 pm. Bring your own tumbleweed!