Kansas-Iowa State: Saturday is "Judgment Day" for Jayhawks

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2010

LAWRENCE, KS - DECEMBER 22:  Sherron Collins #4 of the Kansas Jayhawks drives the ball downcourt during the game against the California Golden Bears on December 22, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Following a slightly embarrassing barrage from the Baylor Bears over the week, the Jayhawks are left in a state of disarray, as their season that looked so promising has stalled miles before the finish.

What once was a rocking Allen Fieldhouse back in December is now an arena full of fans that are doubtful, naive, and above all, worried about their team's future.  If there is one team in the Big 12 that can turn it all around, though, it’s the Kansas Jayhawks.  They don’t call them one of the best in the nation for nothing.

Currently sitting at the third spot in the AP rankings this week, the Jayhawks are below one-loss team Texas and undefeated Kentucky.  Although the Jayhawks are more than capable of regaining the top spot, the Iowa State Cyclones are intent on giving them a run for their money. With a fairly mediocre season, the Cyclones have suffered losses to Northwestern, Northern Iowa, California, Duke and Texas. 

Considering the talent that some of those squads pack, the Cyclones losses aren’t that bad. Craig Brackins is amongst the best in the nation, averaging 16.2 points per game and 8.2 rebounds.  Not the biggest forward in the league, Brackins still looks to give the Jayhawks some trouble Saturday afternoon.

As for the Jayhawks, well, the game plan is simple: Win, play defense, and get the ball to Sheron Collins wherever and whenever possible. 

Averaging 16.3 points per game, Collins has come from the lower ranks in the Jayhawks' top performers to snatch the top spot from Xavier Henry.  With Craig Brackins and Sheron Collins both starting fit and fresh in this game, the offensive game will be vital to both teams.

As much as I like to talk about offense, defense will also be key for both teams. 

Although the Hilton Coliseum is not the loudest venue in basketball, it can get loud when it needs to.  The Jayhawks need to be careful.  Starting off poorly again like they did to Baylor will surely leave them behind in this game.  Iowa State may seem like a team not to be messed with, but get them motivated and they’ll flare up like a bottle rocket.

Cole Aldrich has been quiet in the past few games for the Jayhawks, but has been able to keep Kansas alive when it mattered.  The center position may not be as dominant in this game, as three-point shooting and field goals will need to be spot-on for either side to have any chance at victory.

Finally, Jayhawks fans, don’t panic.  At least, not yet. 

The season isn’t over, and there are still many more games to play.  With a fairly relaxed couple of weeks ahead, the Jayhawks can now have some time to recuperate and focus on what’s important.  At the same time, though, they can’t treat the easy schedule like it’s a bye week; that’s what cost them the Tennessee game.

Offense and defense needs to be significant, and an early dominating lead is vital.  If the Jayhawks can pull all of this off within the first half, don’t be surprised to see them up by at least 10 heading into the break.  A win is needed, confidence is needed, and points are needed.  The Jayhawks can fulfill all of that in this game.

This article was originally written for: http://www.big12-fans.com/

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