The No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks look to keep the pressure on Baylor in the race for the Big 12 title when they host the Iowa State Cyclones on Monday night. The Jayhawks sit at 11-1 in league play, one game behind the No. 1 Bears, who they’ll square off with on Saturday. But first, Kansas needs to top Iowa State, which sits at 4-8 in league play, tied with Texas for seventh place.
Kansas has won nine straight heading into this game and is 22-3 overall. Iowa State has been struggling, currently sitting at 11-14 overall and yet to win a true road game this season (0-8). The Cyclones are coming off one of their best games of the year, though, routing Texas 81-52 on Saturday.
Kansas is a 16-point favorite at home in this one, with the over/under set at 140.5.
Readjusting On The Fly
Iowa State is trying to remake itself in a hurry after the news last week that the team’s leading scorer (15.2 points), rebounder (5.9) and assist man (6.5), Tyrese Haliburton, will be out for the rest of the season with a wrist injury. That leaves just Rasir Bolton as a double-digit scorer for the Cyclones, as he averages 14.7 points. Bolton had just 10 points in the rout of Texas, though three other players were in double digits in the win.
One player who will be counted on for much more is senior forward Michael Jacobson, and he came through against the Longhorns with 21 points and 13 rebounds to lead the team in both categories. Jacobson will certainly see more scoring opportunities with Haliburton sidelined. Iowa State is second only to Kansas in the Big 12 in scoring, averaging 73.8 points per game, but the Cyclones are last in the league in scoring defense, allowing 71.9 points.
Continuing To Roll
Kansas isn’t the undisputed top dog of the Big 12 this season, but the Jayhawks are no slouch either. While Baylor has claimed more of the national spotlight due to its long winning streak, Kansas just keeps winning, and can certainly gain some of the spotlight back with a win Saturday.
First will be beating an Iowa State team that shouldn’t be overlooked. Kansas won the first meeting easy when it was played in Iowa and Haliburton was healthy, but the Jayhawks can’t be lulled into thinking they can coast in this one. Coach Bill Self will certainly be making sure his team is focused on the task at hand.
Having a top guard like Devon Dotson will help as well. Dotson leads the Big 12 in scoring at 18 points a game and should have a big outing in this one. Udoka Azubuike will also be a big factor for the Jayhawks in this one, using his size to easy baskets in the paint. Iowa State gives up the ninth-most rebounds in the Big 12, which isn’t a good thing against the league’s top individual rebounder in Azubuike (9.9).
Should Be A Rout
All signs point to a Kansas rout in this one, which again, might not be a good thing for the Jayhawks with Baylor on the horizon. Self needs to get his team to take this game as serious as it will take Saturday’s matchup, and if they do, they’ll cover the point spread. But Iowa State can score, with or without Haliburton, so I like the Cyclones to stay within the 16-point margin. I’m taking Iowa State +16.