No. 15 Kansas Holds Court at No. 8 Iowa State, 77-70
AMES, Iowa — Junior guard Naadir Tharpe drained his first shot of the game and kept right on going, chalking up a career-high 23 points as one of several leaders that powered No. 15/18 Kansas to a 77-70 victory at No. 8/10 Iowa State inside Hilton Coliseum on ESPN Big Monday.
Remembering an overtime loss the last time the Jayhawks paid a visit, the sold-out crowd made for a fiery atmosphere at Hilton. Nearly all 14,484 in attendance were decked out in gold gear for the “Gold Rules” night and all had plenty of passion aimed at beating Kansas (12-4, 3-0 Big 12). Although the crowd was never out of it, Iowa State (14-2, 2-2 Big 12) led for a mere 12 seconds all night en route to its second loss at home in the last two years – both to the Jayhawks. Kansas remains the only unbeaten team in conference play.
For the first time this season, Tharpe scored KU’s first bucket, a three-pointer across from ISU’s bench, setting the tone for his career performance. He went a perfect 5-for-5 in the first half and only missed twice all night. His 23 points led the Jayhawks’ offensive effort. KU’s point guard also tied a career-high in rebounds (6) and field goals (7).
He wasn’t the only Jayhawk with a big game as freshman guard Andrew Wiggins recorded his second career double-double in the win. While his 17 points were a major factor, it was his 19 rebounds that stood out the most, falling just one shy of the freshman career rebounding record held by Eric Chenowith (20 vs. Texas A&M, 1/14/98).
For the second-straight game, freshman center Joel Embiid completed his evening one rebound shy of a double-double, contributing 16 points and nine boards. He became the only player to rack up five blocks against the Cyclones in 2013-14 and led KU with a pair of steals.
Touted as the only player in the NCAA to average more than 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists per game, Iowa State senior guard DeAndre Kane recovered from his ankle injury just two days prior at Oklahoma to play against the visiting Jayhawks. He led the team with 21 points and added eight rebounds. The Big 12 leading rebounder, junior forward Dustin Hogue, came up with nine rebounds. Iowa State, who leads the country with 18.9 assists per game, was held to 12 dimes on Monday, its second-lowest output of the year.
Offensive rebounds played a vital role in KU’s quick start, giving the Jayhawks a string of second chances that they quickly converted. By the first media timeout, KU’s 6-1 rebounding advantage was easily notated by the 13-4 score. As Tharpe hit his first two shots, Wiggins made his third-straight to open the game and Kansas surged forward, 15-4.
Not midway through the first half, Wiggins was well on his way to the double-double, after pulling down his seventh board less than nine minutes in. On the other end, the Cyclones cleared out after missed shots on their end. In order to cut down on KU’s lethal transition offense, ISU gave up rebounds to get back on defense.
The strategy held merit as the Jayhawk shooters cooled. It cooled further following a technical foul issued on Embiid, opening the door for an 8-0 ISU run. The scoring boost was plenty incentive for the crowd, who roared when Hogue’s layup cut the Jayhawks’ lead down two points, 21-19.
Seemingly thrilled with the crowd’s resurgence, the visiting Jayhawks fired right back, thanks to a five-spot from Tharpe, and again KU added distance, 30-22. A comfort zone was nowhere in sight, however, as the Cyclones hit the gas. An 11-2 run saw the home team take its first lead of the night with only 1:46 remaining in the half when Monte Morris’ layup put ISU in front, 33-32.
The lead was brief. Twelve seconds later, an emphatic dunk from Embiid and a layup by Wiggins immediately returned the lead to the visitors. Yet, Kane’s contested three-pointer in the final seconds sent the game to halftime tied at 36-36.
Kane gave the Cyclones the momentum heading into halftime, but Tharpe stole it back the first chance he got. Embiid dished an offensive rebound to his point guard, who faced the basket from the top of the key and drained his third three of the game. Embiid and Wiggins dropped in layups before Tharpe again came through, this time with his seventh-straight make of the night – powering Kansas to a 9-0 run to start the second half.
While Iowa State’s 1-for-11 shooting start to the stanza provided an obvious benefit for Kansas, the Cyclones fought to keep KU’s lead from getting out of control. KU was shooting nearly 60 percent by the second media timeout, having no choice but to make shots to overcome the blatant turnover advantage. With more than 10 minutes still to play, ISU had committed just three turnovers, while forcing 17. KU tied its season-high with 24 by night’s end.
When passes didn’t result in turnovers, however, they often ended in assists. Bullet passes from Selden and Embiid resulted in layups for Ellis and freshman guard Frank Mason. Embiid did just fine without passes, as well. The KU big man drove to the basket in back-to-back possessions, keeping Kansas firmly in front. When sophomore forward Jamari Traylor followed Wiggins’ miss at the basket for a put-back dunk, the Jayhawks suddenly found themselves back in front by double-digits, 62-51.
There the margin would stay until Ejim’s three-pointer with 6:03 on the clock trimmed the Kansas edge back to nine, 68-59. Freshman guard Matt Thomas hit his one and only three with 1:43 on the clock to bring ISU’s deficit to five, but the Jayhawks were out of reach. Freshman guard Wayne Selden, Jr., sank both attempts during his only trip to the free-throw line and Wiggins came up with a block on ISU’s end for the last defensive stand of the night. Kansas walked away with the 77-70 victory.
Kansas and No. 9/8 Oklahoma State were co-preseason Big 12 favorites and the Cowboys will come to Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 3 p.m. on CBS.
KU STARTERS (Season/Career Starts): Jr. Naadir Tharpe (13/13), Fr. Wayne Selden, Jr. (16/16), Fr. Andrew Wiggins (16/16), So. Perry Ellis (16/19), Fr. Joel Embiid (8/8)
SERIES INFO: Kansas leads 174-59
ATTENDANCE: 14,384 (sold out)
- Improved Kansas to 12-4 on the season
- Keeps Kansas the only undefeated team in conference play, making KU 3-0 for the eighth-straight time and the 10th time in the 11-year Bill Self era.
- Extended Kansas’ win streak over Iowa State to four-straight.
- Increased the Jayhawks’ series lead to 174-59 all-time against the Cyclones, including a 30-8 advantage in the Big 12 era and 24-19 in Hilton Coliseum.
- Marked KU’s 50th victory on ESPN’s Big Monday. The Jayhawks are 50-16 in Big Monday games since the start of the Big 12 era.
- Moved Kansas head coach Bill Self to 20-3 all-time against Iowa State, 312-63 while at Kansas and 519-168 overall.
- Pushed KU’s all-time record to 2,113-816.
- The Jayhawks are now 3-2 against ranked opponents in 2013-14, and 2-0 against top-10 foes (No. 4/4 Duke; No. 8/10 Iowa State).
- Kansas and Iowa State were tied at halftime, 36-36, the first time KU has seen a knotted halftime score since a 26-26 game at Oklahoma State (2/20/13).
- KU opened the second half on a 9-0 run, highlighted by five points from junior G Naadir Tharpe.
- Four different Kansas starters scored within the first three minutes of the game, pushing KU to the early 9-2 lead. Freshman G Wayne Selden, Jr., the only one outside of that group, knocked down his first points, a three-pointer, with 7:07 to play in the first half.
- Iowa State took its first lead with 1:46 remaining in the first half (33-32). The Cyclones held the lead for 12 seconds and would not lead again for the rest of the night.
- Kansas held Iowa State to a season-low 24.3 percent (9-for-37) for a half (2nd).
- While the Jayhawks did not give up a second-chance point in the first half, they did cough up 12 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes, resulting in an 18-4 points off turnovers deficit. KU went on to surrender a season-high 27 points off turnovers.
- KU’s 53 rebounds were a season-high and the first time the Jayhawks have pulled down 50+ rebounds since pulling down 50 vs. North Carolina (3/24/13).
- Kansas held Iowa State to a season-low 16 percent three-point field goal percentage (4-for-25). After stifling Kansas State to 9.1 percent (1-for-11) in their last time out, the Jayhawks have not held opponents to under 20 percent three-point performances in back-to-back nights since Oklahoma State shot 19 percent (2/20/13) and Texas shot 9.5 percent (2/16/13).
- The Jayhawks saw three or more players score in double figures for the 15th time this year.
- Junior G Naadir Tharpe knocked down a three-pointer for KU’s first points of the game, the first time this season Tharpe has scored first for Kansas.
- Scoring the game’s first points set the tone for Tharpe’s night. He was the answer whenever KU needed one in the first half. He was a perfect 5-for-5 with 14 points in the opening frame. He went on to score a career-high 23 points.
- Tharpe went on to hit his first two shots in the second half. He didn’t miss until the 13:13 mark in the second half, tying his career-high in field goals (7-for-9).
- Tharpe was also a clutch 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the final 3:36 of the game.
- Freshman G Andrew Wiggins finished his night with 19 boards, the most by a Jayhawk since Jeff Withey grabbed 20 vs. Oklahoma State (2/11/12). The mark was one short of the KU freshman record (20, Eric Chenowith vs. Texas A&M, 1/14/98).
- In the first half alone, Wiggins pulled down 12 rebounds with 2:52 still remaining in the first half, breaking his career-high (previously 11) before the break. He had his second career double-double by halftime (11 points/12 rebounds).
- Freshman C Joel Embiid batted down five blocks, marking his third game of the year with five or more blocks. The last player to block five shots against the Cyclones was Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart did so on March 6, 2013.
- For the second-straight game, Embiid finished just one rebound shy of a double-double due to his dismissal from the game. He fouled out with 4:11 to play, finishing the night with 16 points, nine rebounds and tied a career-high with seven field goals.
- Freshman G Wayne Selden, Jr. led the floor with a career-high six assists.