Iowa State's Big 12 Prize? Re-Rematch With Kansas

By Rob Gray, Reporter

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By Grant Burkhardt

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas.

Iowa State.

“Revenge,” Cyclone guard Tyrus McGee said.

So begins the list of themes for ISU (22-10) entering today’s 6:30 p.m Big 12 Championship semifinal matchup with the Jayhawks (27-5) at the Sprint Center.

“Huge, huge,” Cyclone guard/forward Will Clyburn said. “We owe them big time.”

For Kansas it appears to be just another game — despite the near-miraculous ways it found to hold off ISU twice in overtime in the regular season.

“We’ve always been the target,” Kansas shot-blocker Jeff Withey said. “When you have a program like us, everybody wants to beat us and play against us. So, it’s nothing new.”

But the wounds caused by those games are fresh.

First, in Lawrence, guard Ben McLemore banked in a 3-pointer to force overtime and an eventual 97-89 Jayhawks win.

Then, 18 days ago in Ames, Kansas’ Elijah Johnson benefitted from a no-call in the closing seconds of regulation, allowing him to complete his one-man comeback and a 108-96 triumph, also in overtime.

The Big 12 issued a statement the following day, acknowledging mistakes were made by officials late in the game.

“There’s a lot of calls during the course of the game and we benefitted (on that one) and it created interest and controversy and attention and things like that,” Self said Thursday.

Another call: One on Kevin Young instead of Withey with 23 seconds remaining in regulation. Withey would have fouled out.

Young insists he indeed committed the foul.

“I knew what the foul situation was and I tried to get in there and foul him, too,” Young said. “I think I got a piece of him. That’s why I raised my hand.”

No subterfuge?

“No,” Young added.

Fouls aside, the two regular season meetings were “classic games,” Self said.

And falling victim to a couple of questionable calls didn’t solely cause ISU to lose either of them.

“We didn’t get the stops we needed, especially down the stretch,” Babb said.

That’s a target worth shooting for — and one hit by the Cyclones in the second half of Thursday’s quarterfinal win over Oklahoma.

“I’m sure there were a lot of people doubting us earlier in the game, but, hey, we didn’t doubt each other,” Clyburn said. “We stayed together. We didn’t split and good things happen when we stay together as a family.”

NOTES: ISU’s Melvin Ejim now has at least one double-double against each Big 12 foe this season. He hadn’t notched one against Oklahoma until Thursday, when he totaled 23 points and 12 rebounds in the 73-66 win.

- ISU started 2 of 18 from 3-point range Thursday and finished 7 of 26

- Kansas has won 15 of the past 16 meetings with the Cyclones.

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