Kansas-Iowa St. Preview
Coach Bill Self believes his team is coming together at the right time as Kansas plays through possibly its toughest stretch of the regular season.
The 15th-ranked Jayhawks face the second of four straight Top 25 opponents as they seek their 17th victory in 18 meetings with the No. 8 Cyclones.
Kansas (11-4, 2-0 Big 12) has gotten back on track since falling at home to then-No. 13 San Diego State on Jan. 5, beating Oklahoma on Wednesday before Saturday's 86-60 rout of then-No. 25 Kansas State.
Following this contest, the Jayhawks host No. 9 Oklahoma State on Saturday and No. 12 Baylor next Monday.
"Playing a certain way with energy is contagious," Self said. "I think everybody is just playing with more energy now consistently than we probably have at any point in time this year. It's definitely getting better."
Andrew Wiggins scored a game-high 22 points against the Wildcats, while fellow freshman Wayne Selden Jr. added 20 as Kansas shot 56.1 percent. It also fell two points short of matching its season best for points allowed.
Joel Embiid had 11 points and nine rebounds before being ejected late for throwing an elbow.
"Over time we've been getting better, getting more comfortable together," Selden said. "It starts on the defensive end."
While the Jayhawks may be getting into a groove, Iowa State may have to try and bounce back from Saturday's 87-82 loss at Oklahoma without Kane, who is second on the team with 16.5 points per game and is tied for the Big 12 lead with 6.1 assists per contest.
Kane had 23 points and nine assists, but he hurt his ankle with 22 seconds remaining. Though the senior guard is hoping to be ready for this contest, his status remains uncertain.
''It looked like he was making a play to the basket, and I'm assuming that he stepped on one of their players' feet,'' coach Fred Hoiberg said. ''I'm guessing that's how he turned it.''
While the health of Kane obviously is a major concern, Hoiberg said his team has other issues as well after the Cyclones (14-1, 2-1) had the longest winning streak in program history snapped.
Iowa State was outrebounded for the fourth straight game as Oklahoma finished with a 22-2 advantage in second-chance points. Hoiberg isn't looking to move on quickly from the loss, but rather is hoping his team can learn from the defeat.
''The big thing I told our guys is that this needs to hurt,'' Hoiberg said. ''We gave away a golden opportunity because we couldn't secure the rebounds.''
Leading scorer Melvin Ejim finished with 21 points, while Georges Niang scored 14 and Dustin Hogue added 13.
''I just think we got off our rhythm,'' Niang said. ''We didn't move the ball around and didn't play with good pace like we usually do. We're a fast team and we like to get up. I just think we didn't do that, and they capitalized on that.''
Niang scored 19 points in the last meeting with Kansas on March 15, but Perry Ellis scored a game-high 23 to lead the Jayhawks to an 88-73 victory in the semifinals of last season's Big 12 tournament.
Iowa State has lost three straight in the series, with the last victory being a 72-64 home win Jan. 28, 2012.