Kansas will play their fifth game in their home away from home at the Sprint Center in Kansas City on Friday. Facing Iowa State for the third time in 2013, the Jayhawks will be up against a stiff challenge from Fred Hoiberg and the Cyclones. The first two meetings between the teams have been contentious and controversial overtime victories for Kansas so Iowa State will be hungry for payback in meeting number three.
Both Kansas and Iowa State won their first game of the 2013 Big 12 Tournament: Kansas steamrolled Texas Tech, 91-63, and Iowa State put together an impressive comeback win over Oklahoma, 73-66.
Players to watch:
#23 Ben McLemore – Holding Kansas together offensively for the first half against Texas Tech, McLemore is once again showing just how crucial he is to the postseason success of the Jayhawks. He simply is a step above the competition and gives Kansas an immediate advantage against any opponent they may face.
#5 Jeff Withey: Opposite of McLemore, Withey provides Kansas with immediate defensive advantages over their opponent. Currently third in the country in blocks, Withey is a force down low and makes scoring in the paint nearly impossible for opposing offenses.
#3 Melvin Ejim: Ejim is one of their best ‘hustle’ players. Averaging a respectable 9.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, Ejim has been a consistent player for the Cyclones all year.
#31 Georges Niang: A major matchup issue for Kansas, Niang, a 6-7, 245 pound freshman can score from anywhere on the floor. Whichever Jayhawk is assigned Niang will have to account for his 38% three point shooting along with his outstanding 50% field goal percentage.
How I See It:
It is difficult to beat a team three times in a season, and even more difficult when that team will be so eager for payback. Iowa State is desperate to beat Kansas after dropping two games they feel they should have won. Fred Hoiberg is a good coach who can get his team fired up for big games and this semifinal will be a good test for both teams.
Last Time They Met:
Elijah Johnson went off for 39-points in an overtime victory in Ames, which was one of the best all-time performances by a Jayhawk.
As much as a toss up as ever, Kansas will be in for a dogfight Friday. Iowa State is not even close to the ideal match up for the Jayhawks and if they allow 17 threes like they did last game, they will not win.
In a surprise, Iowa State knocks off Kansas 83-79