Ames, Iowa No Kansas University basketball player, coach or fan ever tires of watching the replay of Ben McLemore’s straight-on, last-second 22-foot shot that banked off the backboard that forced overtime against upset-minded Iowa State on Jan. 9 in Allen Fieldhouse.
“Magical,” KU senior Kevin Young said of the three that sparked KU to an 97-89 overtime victory over the Cyclones in the Big 12 opener for both teams.
McLemore, who scored a career-high 33 points, today seeks an encore in ISU’s Hilton Coliseum, where the Cyclones — 15-0 this season — have been known to perform “Hilton Magic” time and again.
Tipoff for the rematch between the Jayhawks (23-4, 11-3) and Cyclones (19-8, 9-5) is 8 p.m., with a live broadcast on ESPN.
Does McLemore expect the Hilton denizens to try to rattle him?
“I’m sure they will,” McLemore said, smiling. “I’ll listen to my teammates like I always do, and we’ll try to play the best we can.”
ISU’s fans chanted “We Want Kansas” during the final two minutes of an 86-66 home victory over Texas Tech on Saturday.
“I remember it,” ISU coach Fred Hoiberg said to the Associated Press of McLemore’s shot. “I don’t think I’ll ever flush the memory.”
Hoiberg’s Cyclones “are good and they score easier than anyone in our league,” KU coach Bill Self said. ISU hit 14 threes in that OT meeting in Allen. “We have to do a great job individually, defensively, and our ball-screening has to be great. We were fortunate to get a win the first time. I think we have a great opportunity going there to beat a dangerous team. We are going to have to play our best game away from home.”
KU is 7-2 in Hilton Coliseum in the Self era.
“We haven’t really played that well on the road since the Ohio State game,” Self said. “We just hung in there and figured out a way to win like we did on Wednesday night against Oklahoma State. We are going to have to go play a good game in Ames because they have guys that can score. We are going to have to make shots and be efficient. This needs to be a special game that we play on Monday night.”
ISU is led by double-digit scorers Will Clyburn (14.9 ppg), Tyrus McGee (13.1 ppg), Georges Niang (11.4) and Melvin Ejim (11.1).
“They have crazy fans that are very close to the court. It’s a great environment, kind of like the fieldhouse but not as good,” KU’s Jeff Withey said. “It’s going to be crazy up there.
“Historically, we haven’t done all that well in Ames, but this is for a conference championship, and if we win our next couple of road games we should be fine. I think we’re gonna be all right; we’re going to come ready to play.”
So will the Cyclones.
“It’s one of the biggest games of the year to keep us in the hunt for the NCAA Tournament,” ISU’s Chris Babb said.
“We played them well at their place,” Clyburn added. “We can do better here.”