Notebook: The stage is set
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KANSAS CITY --- You wanted it. You got it.
Iowa State will get its third swing at Kansas on Friday night in a Big 12 Championship semifinal after defeating Oklahoma 73-66 on Thursday afternoon. To state the obvious, the Cyclones are hungry for another crack at KU.
Surprisingly enough, the shyest guy on Iowa State’s team, Will Clyburn, was the most outspoken player about the rematch after the game.
“I’m ready for payback,” said the senior.
Clyburn wasn’t the only Cyclone to speak of this topic after Iowa State's first win in the Big 12 Tournament since 2005. The second that the clock hit zero against Oklahoma, the questions about Kansas started coming at a blistering pace. Even if Iowa State wanted to avoid the topic, that simply wasn’t possible.
The same went for the Jayhawks, who slaughtered Texas Tech 91-63. In fact, I’d estimate that half of the questions asked in Kansas’ postgame press conference were about Iowa State specifically.
“I think it’s going to be a terrific ballgame,” said Kansas coach Bill Self. “It’s a hard matchup for us in a lot of ways because it gets Jeff (Withey) away from the basket defensively and that’s where he’s so good is protecting the rim.”
And yes, the controversey from Kansas' win over Iowa State on Feb. 25 was brought up as well.
“We benefited from a no call late,” admitted Self. “But there’s a lot of calls during the course of a game. There’s not just the calls that are at the very end of a game that can affect it. But there’s a lot of calls during the course of the game, and we benefited and it created interest and controversy and attention and things like that.”
Iowa State’s defeat of Oklahoma didn’t only snap its seven-year losing streak in the Big 12 Tournament. It also got the Cyclones off the NCAA Tournament’s bubble (even though I don’t buy for a minute that Iowa State was going to get left out even with a loss).
According to Self though, there should have never been any question about the Cyclones.
“They’re not a bubble team,” said Self. “I don’t think Fred could sell to his team that they’re a bubble team for motivation. They’re in the tournament.”
“It will be two NCAA Tournament teams hooking up and playing tomorrow.”
*** Thursday was Tyrus McGee’s birthday.
“That was the best gift I could ever have,” said McGee. “It was my first time actually playing on my birthday.”
*** I asked Korie Lucious if the way that Iowa State came back to win on Thursday will give the Cyclones extra momentum for Friday.
“A lot. Especially after not winning for seven years I think it was. It gives a lot of confidence,” said Lucious. “Oklahoma is a great team. For us to come back 12 points shows us a lot of character about the team.”
To correct Lucious, the Cyclones actually trailed by 14.
*** Kansas scored 91 points in its quarterfinal win over Texas Tech. Somehow, only two Jayhawks finished in double figures. Ben McLemore had 24 and Naadir Tharpe scored 11.