The Kansas Jayhawks (16-4, 7-0) made 10 three-pointers, and made over half their field goals to hold of a scrappy Iowa State Cyclones (15-4, 3-4) to win 92-81. The Jayhawks remain the only unbeaten team in the Big 12 Conference.
Kansas played some of its best all around basketball of the season for about the first ten minutes of the contest before the Cyclones took advantage of some inattentive defense. The Jayhawks led 30-14 before Iowa State started knocking down some their shots, and the Cyclones closed the distance to just three points at the half, 46-43.
After the intermission, the pace of the game did not slow. Every time it looks as if the Jayhawks were going to pull away, the Cyclones came charging back. They would never allow Kansas to get out of reach. In the end, the Cyclones had three straight possession inside the 3-minute mark in which they turned the ball over. The Jayhawks turned those into points to pull away. Kansas hit some free throws down the stretch to secure the victory.
To say that both teams played horrible defense would insinuate that much defense was played at all. After the defensive effort of the Jayhawks in the first ten minutes, the offenses pretty much had their way. Players drove into the lane unimpeded, and shooters got good looks from all over the court. Both teams had good offensive strategies but the lack of defense from both teams made things easier to score.
There were some terrific performances from players on both teams. Andrew Wiggins scored a career high 29 points, and hit 4 or 6 three-pointers, and 5 of 6 from the line. He has averaged over 24 points in the last three games.
Naadir Tharpe and Joel Embiid both recorded double-doubles. Tharpe had 12 points and 12 rebounds, and pulled in 5 boards for good measure. Embid knocked down 14 points, and ripped down 11 rebounds. Tharpe only committed 1 turnover as well.
As a team, KU out rebounded ISU 38-28, and they recorded 20 assists to 14 turnovers, a much lower total then the 24 turnovers they committed in their previous meeting in Ames 16 days earlier.
The biggest difference between these two teams is that Iowa State has basically three terrific offensive players in Kane, Ejim, and Niang. Kansas has many more options, even when they are not hitting on all cylinders. In truth, Iowa State’s lack of a true post player haunts them at times against teams with good front court depth, like the Jayhawks.
Both teams shot the ball well as Kansas hit 51.6% of their shots, and the Cyclones 48.4%. Both teams knocked down 10 three-pointers, but Kansas did it with 4 less attempts. Kansas had a great night at the line as well, hitting 18 of 21 attempts for 85.7%.
This was an extremely fun game to watch, with up and down action the whole game. Kansas as a team, and Selden individually, made some terrific hustle plays, as this team seems to have finally bought into how much hustle and intensity can change the course of a ball game.
This team still a long way to go on the defensive end but right now, the Kansas Jayhawks are playing very well as a team. They have been hard to beat in conference play, and little in Wednesday night’s performance indicates anything will change.
Saturday, Kansas will travel to Austin to face a red hot team in the Texas Longhorns at 3 p.m. CST. Texas likes to keep the score under 70, and Kansas has struggled at times to score against good defensive teams. The Longhorns should be all fired up for this exciting match up. Kansas will have to be on their A game to win this road contest.