A lot has changed since KU last faced the Cyclones from Iowa State in Ames. Iowa State was 2-1 in league play, and ranked in the top 10. A team that was looking more and more like one of the heavy favorites to win the Big 12. However, Kansas came to town and crashed the party. Iowa State then went on the road to lose to Texas, making it 3 straight losses.
Since then, they have beaten only Kansas State at home. They sit at 3-3 and in desperate need of a run. A loss to KU on Wednesday in Allen Fieldhouse will likely put them out of the league race given that KU sits a 6-0 a third of the way through the league schedule. That does make Iowa State more dangerous, and will require that the young Jayhawks to not get complacent in their very early success. Half of KU’s remaining Big 12 schedule is on the road. They also have, in addition to the game against Iowa State, tough home contests against Texas and Oklahoma. There are no days off in this league, especially this season. KU had better come to play, because the Cyclones are desperate. Here are some things to watch for in this weeks rematch:
1. Limiting Iowa State’s three point attempts. Iowa state lives and dies by the three. In their three Big 12 losses, they are shooting only 24 percent from deep. Against KU, they shot a putrid 16 percent. That won’t be the case Wednesday. Kansas let Iowa State get off 25 attempts from three. Had State even shot a mediocre percentage, they win that game. In their three league wins, Iowa State is shooting 39 percent from deep. If they have that kind of night, it could spell trouble for Kansas if their shooters are allowed to get off too many good looks.
2. Turnovers. I pointed this out before the first meeting, and nothing has changed. KU had 24 turnovers at Iowa State. 24! On the road! And they won! Mysterious as that is, I don’t think even the friendly confines of the Phog can protect Kansas if they give the ball away at such an alarming rate again against this high powered offense.
3. Has Wiggins figured it out? For KU to become the team they are capable of being and a team that can cut down the nets in March, Andrew Wiggins has to take the final step of his college career and play like he knows he is the best player on the court. Against TCU, he did that for the first time all year. But, it was TCU. Everybody and their dog knew that he was without a doubt the best player on that court. Wiggins has to play that way against stiffer competition. Competition that will really make him prove it. Competition that will conveniently present itself at his doorstep on Wednesday night. When he gets in the right mindset, he is unstoppable. He will get to the rim and either be fouled or score. When he plays timid, he is at best the 16 points and 6 rebounds player we have seen so far this season. That is really, really good. KU can beat Iowa State with that Andrew. But I want to see KU beat Iowa State with the Andrew Wiggins Kansas needs for March.