Kansas Jayhawks 26-4 (14-3)
By: Evan Riggs | @EvanRiggsUDK
G: junior Frank Mason III
Against West Virginia on Tuesday, Kansas guard Frank Mason III showed why he is one of the toughest players in the Big 12, writes sports editor Scott Chasen.
Against Texas, Mason had a solid stat line of 14 points and six assists and had complete control of the game from opening tip. In January, he shot 50 percent from the field just three times, but he’s reached that mark in five of his last six games. Mason is the leader of the team, and may start, but he may also come off the bench in favor of junior guard Wayne Selden Jr., who has started every game over three years in a Kansas uniform.
G: senior Evan Manning
The University announced Wednesday that senior forward Perry Ellis, senior guard Evan Mannin…
Manning will make his first career start for the Jayhawks on Saturday. The walk-on has scored nine points in his 27 minutes this season on 50 percent shooting from the three-point line. If the Jayhawks are able to open up a lead, Manning will get plenty of time to get shots up.
F: senior Perry Ellis
Senior forward Perry Ellis had 23 games in a row where the senior scored in double figures. Saturday the streak snapped, but that's not what is on Ellis's mind.
After his only single-digit outing in conference play, Ellis followed that up with one of his best games of the season Saturday. He had 20 points, but he did it on 9-of-11 shooting and he was able to get any shot he wanted. Senior day may be emotional for the rarely-emotional Ellis, but his calm demeanor will probably pay dividends on Saturday. In Kansas’ last meeting with Iowa State, they had no answer for Ellis, who scored 23 points, and it will likely be more of the same on Saturday.
F: senior Jamari Traylor
On Saturday, the now-No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks clinched a share of their 12th consecutive Big 12…
The fifth-year senior has been with the Jayhawks longer than anybody, and he’s even started some games in the past two seasons. He didn’t play more than 17 minutes in any game in the month of February, but he’s brought constant energy when he’s been on the floor with plays like his dunk against Texas, which may have been the dunk of the year for Kansas.
F: senior Hunter Mickelson
Throughout the early part of the season, Kansas coach Bill Self has experimented with the li…
Mickelson went from being a starter to being relegated to the bench in the first half of Big 12 play. Just a few weeks ago, Kansas coach Bill Self made it clear that Mickelson still wasn’t 100 percent after he suffered an ankle sprain at the beginning of February. When he got in the game against Texas, he appeared to be moving pretty well, but his health will be tested early on Saturday chasing Iowa State senior Jameel McKay down the court.
At a glance:
Heading into Saturday’s game, the Jayhawks have already accomplished about all they could have hoped to in the regular season. They won the Big 12 outright, and they have essentially locked up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. But senior night, in addition to playing a team that handled the Jayhawks by double-digits in January, should be plenty of motivation.
Player to watch: Wayne Selden Jr.
Since his career-high 33 points against Kentucky, Selden has been wildly inconsistent. He’s scored double figures in just three of the Jayhawks last nine games, and he’s had two games with just three points. If Selden is able to break out of his slump, the Jayhawks will be very tough to beat on Saturday. They haven’t lost a game yet this year where Selden has scored at least 13 points.
Question mark: Can Kansas slow down Georges Niang?
Niang is averaging 19.3 points per game this season and 18.3 points per game in his career against Kansas, so it’s very clear he’s going to get his points. But the Jayhawks have to make sure it takes him a lot of shots to score those points. The Jayhawks have six different big men they can throw at Niang, and if they are able to make him an inefficient scorer, the Cyclones will have a very tough time in Allen Fieldhouse.
By the numbers:
31 – Kansas has won 31 consecutive senior nights.
2 – With a win on Saturday, the Jayhawks would guarantee that they win the Big 12 by at least two games. That would be the third time they have done that in the Self era.
10 – The Jayhawks haven’t won 10 consecutive Big 12 games since 2010, when they started conference play 13-0. A win Saturday would give them 10 straight Big 12 wins.
Big Jay will cheer if…
The Jayhawks are able to get all of their seniors involved. The Jayhawks haven’t lost on senior night in 32 years, and with the way the team has played, that doesn't seem likely to change, even against the Cyclones. If the Jayhawks can build a lead, it will give the seniors one last chance at some extended minutes in Allen Fieldhouse.
Iowa State Cyclones 21-9 (10-7)
By: Shane Jackson | @jacksonshane3
G: junior Monte Morris — 5 stars
Monte Morris may the most important player on the Cyclones' roster as he does a bit of everything. He has started in all 30 games this season, averaging 14.3 points per contest. He is one of two players on the team shooting over 50 percent. In addition, he leads the team in assists with 215 on the year.
G: junior Matt Thomas — 3 stars
Matt Thomas has been a serviceable replacement for Naz Long, who was sidelined for the year with a hip injury. Thomas has started in 22 games for Iowa State, averaging 10.7 points per contest. He is the team’s best three-point option, making 76-of-176 from downtown.
F: senior Abdel Nader — 4 stars
Abdel Nader flies under the radar a bit, but is the team’s third option on the offensive end and a respectable one at that. Nader averages 13.5 points per contest, shooting just a tick over 48 percent from the floor. He is also third on the team in rebounding with 5.1 boards per game.
F: senior Georges Niang — 5 stars
Leading the way for Iowa State is Georges Niang, who is one of the premier forwards in the conference. Niang averages 19.3 points per game, which leads the team by at least five points. Niang is shooting at a 54 percent clip and should clearly be the main focus for Kansas defensively.
F: senior Jameel McKay — 4 stars
Iowa State’s one-two punch in the post between Niang and Jameel McKay is effective on opposing teams. While Niang is the scorer, McKay does everything else well. He’s athletic and can finish at the rim. McKay leads the team in rebounding and blocks with 8.9 boards and 1.8 blocks per game.
At a glance:
Iowa State currently sits in fifth in the Big 12 with a 10-7 conference record. However, the Cyclones could be ranked much higher if they were able to win away from Hilton Coliseum. Iowa State has a 3-5 road record in the Big 12, including three consecutive losses. Things don’t get much easier for the Cyclones going into Allen Fieldhouse.
Player to watch: junior guard Deonte Burton
All five starters for Iowa State average at least 30 minutes per game. Still, Deonte Burton has a chance to make a key contribution off the bench. Though he averages just 19.5 minutes per contest, Burton is averaging double-digits in scoring. He is the only non-starter to lead the team in scoring in a game, which he accomplished when he scored 20 at Texas Tech on Feb. 10.
Question mark: Will the bench be able to contribute in Allen?
Iowa State has a tendency to rely heavily on its starting lineup. At this point in the season, it's evident the Cyclones players can handle this kind of workload in a single game. But the whistle tends to favor Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse, meaning Iowa State’s starters may have to deal with foul trouble this Saturday, forcing more minutes on the reserves.
By the numbers:
3 - Iowa State has three straight road losses, losing to West Virginia, Baylor and Texas Tech.
4.13 - Monte Morris has the best assist-to-turnover ratio in the Big 12 at 4.13 with 215 assists and 52 turnovers this season.
82.2 - The Cyclones are the highest scoring team in conference with an average of 82.2 points per game.
Baby Jay will cry if…
Kansas players go into this game with a lazy mindset, and Iowa State jumps out to an early lead. With the Jayhawks clinching an outright championship earlier this week, it is plausible that players come out with a lack of intensity — especially given that Kansas has won the last 39 games in Allen Fieldhouse.
Beat writer predictions:
Scott Chasen | @SChasenKU: Kansas, 81-71
Shane Jackson | @jacksonshane3: 88-75
Evan Riggs | @EvanRiggsUDK: Kansas, 85-70
— Edited by Samantha Harms