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Much like the Big Ten, there are multiple Top 25 matchups every week in the Big 12. With half of its conference in the rankings, it'd be pretty hard to not get a couple big time matchups in a given week. Wednesday features two teams that don't like each other, although that could be said about most teams when going against Kansas.
When these teams played in Ames earlier this month, the Jayhawks had the lead for most of the game and won by seven points in the upset. In that game, Iowa State shot a putrid 31.4% from the field and 4-of-25 from long range. That's not going to cut it against one of the best teams in the country.
Things won't be any easier for the Cyclones in this game, as they are a perennial poor team on the road. They have lost their last two road tests against inferior teams in Oklahoma and Texas. To beat KU in this game, it's going to take some hot shooting and even better defense.
Since losing four non-conference games, Kansas seems to have figured things out, already two games above second place in the Big 12 with zero conference losses. This will probably be their last true test at home (although Texas and Oklahoma won't be easy), and then they'll have some big road games, most notably at OK State.
Much like in the first matchup between these teams, Joel Embiid is going to be problematic for ISU. Embiid finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and five blocks while also fouling out. Fellow freshman star Andrew Wiggins also put in 17 points and a ridiculous 19 rebounds. The x-factor in that game was point guard Naadir Tharpe who was efficient with 23 points, six boards and four assists. Normally a position of weakness for the Jayhawks, Tharpe came up big on the road.
The thing about Kansas is that they have more than those big name guys even though they get all the attention. Perry Ellis is another big man that can take over the game if needed as he's averaging close to 13 points per game. Wayne Selden Jr. is another freshman, and while he may be inconsistent, is still someone that can explode for a big game.
Iowa State has a pretty stacked roster as well, but as has been the case with them in recent years, they don't have that true big man to deal with a player like Embiid. As said earlier, no one shot well for the Cyclones in the last game. Georges Niang, usually a consistent shooter, went 4-of-20 from the field and 0-for-9 from three. Obviously, that can't happen again. Then there's the do-it-all DeAndre Kane (16.3 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 5.8 APG), a 64% FT shooter on the year, shot 8-of-16 from the FT line in the first matchup. The little things like that can make a big difference.
ISU's leading rebounders Melvin Ejim (17.9 PPG, 7.3 RPG) and Dustin Hogue (9.3 RPG) are going to have to do a better job on the glass. With both at just 6-6, it doesn't help that they're going against multiple players taller than them, but that's the case almost every game. The Jayhawks out-rebounded the Cyclones by 17 boards in that first game.
Despite these games being extremely close over the past couple years, the Jayhawks have had the edge, with two overtime wins last year. That includes an OT win in Lawrence. At some point, the Cyclones need to shed the tag of being a poor team away from home, but it's going to take an immense effort to win this one. Nevertheless, as long as Iowa State doesn't shoot near 30 percent again, this will be a close result.
Predicted Score - Kansas 89 Iowa State 78
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