Before every KU men’s basketball game, The Star’s Jesse Newell previews the Jayhawks’ upcoming opponent with a scouting report and prediction.
Monday’s game: No. 2 Kansas at Iowa State, 8 p.m. at Hilton Coliseum (ESPN)
Opponent’s record: 11-5
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 23
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
Point spread: KU by 3
All statistics from KenPom.com, Hoop-Math.com and Synergy Sports Technology. KenPom stats also only include Division I competition.
▪ Ball security: Iowa State is No. 1 in the nation in offensive turnover percentage. KU doesn’t force many turnovers either, so even if it’s a high-possession game, expect the Cyclones to keep their turnovers in the 10-12 range.
▪ Transition offense: Like Oklahoma State, Iowa State loves to get out and run. The Cyclones rank 45th in percentage of shots taken in transition and 58th in transition shooting percentage.
▪ Foul avoidance: This Fred Hoiberg philosophy remains two years after his departure: Iowa State doesn’t put opponents at the line often, ranking fourth nationally in defensive free-throw rate.
▪ Rebounding, both ends: In Big 12 play, Iowa State ranks ninth in offensive rebounding percentage and 10th in defensive rebounding percentage among conference teams.
▪ Getting to the line: Iowa State shies away from contact offensively, ranking 350th in offensive free-throw rate.
▪ Shot selection: The Cyclones shoot a high number of two-point jumpshots while ranking 261st in shooting percentage on those attempts. The team also appears to have a steeper-than-most dropoff offensively when it doesn’t get out in transition.
3 Players to Watch
Six-foot-3 guard Monte Morris (No. 11)
Plus: Efficient offensive player
Plus: Never turns it over
Plus: Ranks 81st in assist rate
Plus: Has made 39 percent of his 61 three-point attempts
Minus: Doesn’t get to the line often
Minus: Can fall in love with mid-range jumpers, which aren’t his strength
Six-foot-5 forward Deonte Burton (No. 30)
Plus: Team’s go-to guy offensively who shoots most often
Plus: Ranks top 250 in steal and block rate
Plus: Easily has been team’s best defensive rebounder
Plus: Must respect him on perimeter (39 percent from three on 36 attempts)
Minus: Inefficient overall player who shoots too many two-point jumpers
Minus: Doesn’t shoot many free throws
Six-foot-5 guard Matt Thomas (No. 21)
Plus: Strong three-point shooter who put them up often
Plus: Has excelled in transition this year
Plus: Almost never turns it over
Minus: Doesn’t create or score inside arc
It appears that KU might be catching Iowa State at the right time.
The Cyclones’ defense has been especially poor in its last two games, as a combined 53 percent of Oklahoma State and TCU shot attempts were at the rim. As a result, the Cyclones surrendered 1.17 and 1.23 points per possession — their worst two totals of the season.
Iowa State has struggled getting back in transition, which is a big advantage for this KU particular team. It wouldn’t be surprising if coach Steve Prohm sent an extra offensive rebounder to get back, and if that happens, KU should dominate on the glass as well.
For the Cyclones, it’ll be about getting fast-break points and also exposing mismatches on the perimeter to get open threes. They’ve shot well from the outside this year (37 percent), though they haven’t attempted nearly as many as years past.
If Iowa State’s recent defense holds, the team is going to need a lot of points to hang with KU. Add in that the Cyclones don’t draw many fouls, and it’ll be tougher to fully take advantage of Hilton Magic.
Give me KU for the win and cover.
Kansas 83, Iowa State 73
Jesse’s pick to cover spread: Kansas
Hawk to Rock
I’m wondering who Iowa State will put on Josh Jackson. Matt Thomas? Nick Weiler-Babb? Both have been two of the Cyclones’ weakest defenders according to Synergy’s logs, and the fact that KU should have plenty of transition opportunities only gives me more reason to think Jackson should have a chance at breaking his career high of 22 points.
Last game prediction: Kansas 96, Oklahoma State 86, (Actual: KU 87-80)
2016-17 record vs. spread: 7-8
Last three seasons’ record vs. spread: 48-35-2