Preview: Iowa State at Kansas

Russell Robinson's absence shouldn't have much of an effect on the outcome of the game tomorrow because Iowa State can't score. They've scored one point per possession or more in a road game exactly once this year season: November 21st, 2006 @Minnesota.

KANSAS DEFENSE v. IOWA STATE OFFENSE

(Big 12 games only)

Team eFG% OR% TO% FT Rate FT% PPP
KU def 43.4 28.0 22.4 37.0 64.3 0.89
ISU off 44.4 31.9 23.2 20.0 71.9 0.92

I'm still uncertain about the cause-and-effect relationship between Mike Taylor and Iowa State offense's inefficiency. He has turned the ball over at least four times in 10 of 13 conference games and has turned the ball over seven or more times in a game on nine occasions this year. His eight turnovers in the win against Colorado this week put him back up over 10 turnovers per 100 possessions on the year (10.2). Plus, he misses a ton of shots. He's made just 34.4% of 180 three-point attempts, 39.4% of 203 two-point attempts, and 69% of his 113 free throw attempts. While he's on the floor, between 27.1 and 29.5 out of every 100 Iowa State possessions (depending on the specific breakdown of those free throw misses) result in a Mike Taylor turnover or missed shot.

Meanwhile, Rashon Clark, Corey McIntosh, and Dodie Dunson are each playing at least 57% of Iowa State's minutes on the season without scoring more than 14 points per 100 possessions. Each of those three shoot a lower percentage from the floor than Taylor, suggesting that some of his turnover and missed shot volume derives from his teammates' limitations.

There should be a lot of opportunities for the Jayhawks to get defensive rebounds in this game. That fact, and Iowa State's tendency to play a big front line suggests that Kansas won't be disadvantaged by playing Julian Wright on the wing in certain situations on Saturday.

KANSAS OFFENSE v. IOWA STATE DEFENSE

(Big 12 games only)

Team eFG% OR% TO% FT Rate FT% PPP
KU off 55.6 37.3 20.3 22.6 67.0 1.13
ISU def 47.7 31.3 19.2 32.7 69.9 1.00

Greg McDermott deserves credit for coaxing a competitive defensive performance out of the motley collection of players at his disposal. One thing I've learned from analyzing a 100-odd teams' game logs this year is that it's really hard to sustain respectable defensive efficiency numbers if you have a consistently inefficient offense.

It makes sense (or at least I've made it make sense in my head) that, if one assumes that, over time, it's easier to score off of a forced turnover or defensive rebound than an opponent's made shot, then turning the ball over a lot and missing a bunch of shots puts your defense at a disadvantage relative to an average team.

Thus, I propose that Iowa State's overall average defensive performance in Big 12 games reflects (to some degree) the extreme inefficiency of their offense and I declare the Cyclones to be a slightly above average defensive team.

The bad news for them on Saturday is that Kansas will replace their least efficient scorer (tied with Sasha Kaun, anyway--and, it should be noted, Kaun and Robinson score more efficiently than every Iowa State player with the exception of Cory Johnson, who has played just 27% of Iowa State's minutes on the year and attempted just 66 shots) by giving more minutes to Sherron Collins, Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush, and (if Wright plays some on the wing) Darrell Arthur and increasing the likelihood that Iowa State will have to guard all five Kansas players at all times.

Besides, if there was one Big 12 team against whom I wouldn't worry about Rod Stewart, Brady Morningstar, and/or Jeremy Case having to play 10 minutes, it would be Iowa State.

Early foul trouble for the healthy Kansas guards could keep Iowa State in the game for a half. Early foul trouble on Jiri Hubalek or Wesley Johnson could turn the Cyclones into the Maric-less Cornhuskers we saw in the Fieldhouse last weekend.

It's hard to imagine Iowa State involved in a game that's aesthetically pleasing, but it's harder to imagine them keeping it close on the road against a good team.

Prediction: Kansas 76 Iowa State 58

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