Kansas-Iowa St. Preview
Kansas isn't likely to extend its remarkable Big 12 title run without ending its road woes - a task that won't be easy against resurgent Iowa State.
In the first meeting since the 2015 conference tournament final, the fourth-ranked Jayhawks will try to move into sole possession of the Big 12 lead while avoiding their third straight road loss Monday night against the No. 14 Cyclones.
This matchup will also feature two of the league's top three scorers in Kansas' Perry Ellis (16.3 per game) and Iowa State's Georges Niang (19.3).
After totaling 23 points on 7-of-19 shooting in his prior two games, Ellis scored 26 in Saturday's 76-67 home win over Texas. Wayne Selden Jr. added 19 and hit 4 of 8 from 3-point range after averaging 9.5 while missing 15 of 21 from deep in his previous four.
Kansas struggled to beat TCU at home between double-digit road losses, but moved back into a four-way tie for first place with Oklahoma, West Virginia and Baylor, which lost to the Sooners on Saturday.
"We needed to eliminate the negative momentum because we were in a rut," said coach Bill Self, who improved to 200-9 at Allen Fieldhouse.
Now the Jayhawks (16-3, 5-2) can move a half-game ahead as they continue to chase a 12th straight Big 12 regular-season title. However, they've dropped five of their last six road games dating to last season.
Since winning 18 of 19 in this series, Kansas has lost three of four, including an 86-81 loss in its last trip to Ames on Jan. 17, 2015. Iowa State also rallied from 17 down to capture its second straight Big 12 tournament title with a 70-66 win over the Jayhawks on March 14.
Niang led the Cyclones with 19 points in that contest and has averaged 21.4 while hitting 11 of 26 from 3-point range in his last five matchups.
After scoring 22.0 per game on 55.3 percent shooting over his previous nine, the senior forward looks to bounce back after matching a season-low with 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting in Saturday's 73-60 win at TCU.
Monte Morris stepped up with 18 points for the Cyclones, who rank among the national leaders with 84.4 points per game and a 50.2 field-goal percentage. The junior guard has averaged 19.0 points over his last five.
"We need him to score," coach Steve Prohm said of Morris. "We don't need Georges to get 11 every night. We need him to get going, especially Monday."
After opening 1-3 in conference play, the Cyclones (15-4, 4-3) have worked their way back into the race with three consecutive victories, including last Monday's 82-77 home win over Oklahoma.
They've tightened things up defensively, allowing an average of 66.7 points on 39.8 percent shooting during the streak. The Cyclones had given up 81.6 per game on 47.2 percent over their previous nine.
That's a trend they'll try to continue against a Kansas team that has scored 69.0 per game while hitting 41.8 percent in its last five.
Selden, though, has totaled 45 points on 15-of-24 shooting in the past two meetings with Iowa State. Ellis had averaged 21.5 in his previous four matchups before he was held to seven on 2-of-10 shooting in the Big 12 final.
The Cyclones have won 16 of their past 19 home games versus ranked opponents, but the Jayhawks handed them two of the defeats.