News, notes and quotes on No. 6 Kansas' matchup with No. 16 Iowa State tonight at 8 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse on ESPNU while wondering if freshman sensation Andrew Wiggins can break his career high of 27 points he set on Saturday against TCU.
KU marches into this contest as one of the hottest teams in the country at 15-4 and the only unbeaten team in the Big 12 at 6-0.
SCOUTING Iowa STATE
ISU (15-3, 3-3 Big 12), which opened the year at 14-0, snapped its three-game losing streak in Big 12 action with an 81-75 win over No. 22 K-State Saturday in Ames.
Senior forward Melvin Ejim paces the attack with a Big 12-leading 17.9 points per game. Senior guard DeAndre Kane is next in scoring at 16.3 points per game, while ranking 11th in the league in rebounding (7.1 rpg) and second in assists (5.8 apg). Kane also has a team-high 28 steals. He's followed in scoring by sophomore forward Georges Niang (15.4 ppg, No. 2 on team with 66 assists), junior forward Dustin Hogue (11.9 ppg. No. 2 in Big 12 with 9.3 rpg) and sophomore guard Naz Long (7.7 ppg and team-high 34 three-pointers).
The Cyclones lead the Big 12 in scoring offense (84.8), assists (18.2), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7) and three-point field goals made (8.7). Iowa State has a +14.3 scoring margin and a +1.4 rebound margin. ISU is not fearful from bombing from deep, attempting 24.9 threes per game. The Cyclones shoot 47.7 percent from the field, 35.0 percent from three-point range, and 70.3 percent at the free throw line, while holding foes to 40.1 percent shooting and 31.9 percent from beyond the arc.
Coach Fred Hoiberg is 77-42 in his fourth season at ISU.
SELF ON THE CYCLONES
"We're excited," KU coach Bill Self said. "One thing when we play Iowa State is it's usually a fun game for the fans. It's kind of stressful for the coaches, probably. We played pretty well up there the first time. We were fortunate they missed shots. We know we need to guard them better even though they missed shots the first time. A lot of that is we just got lucky. They played us great here last year and we were fortunate (KU won 97-89 in OT at Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 9, 2013; Ben McLemore, who scored 33 points, hit a three-point bank shot to tie the game at the end of regulation), so I'm sure we'll get another great effort from them."
LAST TIME OUT
KU beat ISU in the previous meeting at Ames on Jan. 13, 77-70. Naadir Tharpe led all scorers with 23 points while Wiggins had 17 points and a career-high 19 rebounds and Joel Embiid posted 16 points, nine rebounds and five blocks. Kansas dominated the boards, 53-36, while holding ISU to just 31.4 percent shooting and 16.0 percent (4-25) from beyond the arc.
Kane led the Cyclones in scoring with 21 points while Ejim added 15.
On a bad note, KU committed a whopping 24 turnovers with Embiid having seven. Self knows KU must reduce its turnovers.
"I think a lot that was self-inflicted," Self said about KU's 24 turnovers in Hilton Coliseum. "We probably had eight or 10 that were unforced. We got to do a better job of taking care of the basketball, obviously. Playing on the road in a hostile environment, I would expect us to probably have about 15 (turnovers), unless we just played an error free game in that situation based on our past performances. But that was way excessive. We just got to to a better job of not wasting possessions."
Self likes the way his team has improved since the New Mexico game at Sprint Center in Kansas City on Dec. 14.
"Going back to mid-December, we played better and now we're playing with a little bit more energy and a little bit more confidence," Self said. Of course, we lost a game during that stretch to San Diego State (January 5), but they're good. They're ranked fourth or fifth in the country. Certainly, we had the opportunity to win that game. I think the big thing is we're playing with more energy, we're starting to understand how we're going to score and not just running offense to run offense. We're running our offense actually with a game plan behind it. We're not a tough team by any stretch, but I think we are playing tougher then we did earlier in the season."
Self said before practice Tuesday afternoon that senior forward Tarik Black, who sprained his ankle against K-State and did not play versus TCU Saturday, was still only 50 to 60 percent.
"We're hoping he's available to us," Self said, "but as of right now, he's still questionable."
EIGHT & COUNTING?
KU has won the last eight games with Iowa State in Allen Fieldhouse and 17 of the last 18 meetings overall. This last ISU win in the Phog was a 63-61 overtime contest on Feb. 19, 2005.