No. 6 Kansas Strengthens Streak, Tops No. 16 Iowa State, 92-81
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Naadir Tharpe set up several shots for Andrew Wiggins on a night where one saw a career-high in assists and the other in points, but none better than his steal-drive-lob sequence that ended in a Wiggins dunk in the closing minutes of No. 6/7 Kansas’ 92-81 win over No. 16/18 Iowa State inside Allen Fieldhouse Wednesday night.
Already meeting for the second time this season, Kansas (16-4, 7-0 Big 12) and Iowa State (15-4, 3-4 Big 12) both outdid themselves the second time around. In a 16-day span, the Cyclones’ 4-of-25 three-point shooting in round one was replaced by a 10-of-26 mark, while the Jayhawks cut 10 turnovers off their total from the opening clash. What resulted was a highly-volatile offensive performance on both sides, which saw the home team lead by as much as 16 and as little as one – but never trailed – on its way to a 7-0 mark in Big 12 play for the third-straight year.
Wiggins and Tharpe were a big piece of a huge puzzle as all five starters ended their night in double-figures. Four days after setting a career-high at TCU, Wiggins set a new one with a game-high 29 points in the win. The first Jayhawk to chalk up 10 field goals in a game this season, Wiggins also tied his career-best with four three-pointers. Tharpe did the dishing to him, and everyone else, en route to his first career double-double. He chalked up 12 points, tied a career-high with 12 assists and committed just one turnover.
While it was his fifth rather than his first, freshman center Joel Embiid chalked up a double-double, as well, with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman guard Wayne Selden, Jr. dropped in 11 points and five rebounds, while sophomore forward Perry Ellis took the need for an early attack to heart. He charged through the first half with 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting and went on to finish with 20 points.
On the flipside, senior forward Melvin Ejim, the Big 12’s leading scorer tallied seven points in the opening frame and 18 for the evening for his 21st-consecutive double-digit game. Sophomore forward Georges Niang, who went 0-for-9 from three-point range in the first meeting with KU, led the Cyclones with 24 points on Wednesday, which included a team-high three triples. Senior guard DeAndre Kane tallied 22 points to round out the leaderboard.
The expected energy in the Fieldhouse didn’t disappoint. Wiggins and Selden piqued the crowd with a pair of early threes and a three-point play from Ellis had the Jayhawks on a noisy 11-4 run to kick off the night. Not five minutes into the game, an Ellis bank shot from the baseline threw Kansas’ lead into double digits for the first of multiple times.
In the early goings, Kansas found ways to beat the Cyclones at their own game. The best defensive rebounding team in the conference, the Jayhawks took away the visitors abilities to showcase their skill. Even when he couldn’t get grab the ball himself, Embiid had his hand on every missed shot, tipping the rebound out to his teammates.
The tactic worked wonders as KU finished with a 38-28 rebound advantage. Back-to-back possessions resulted in buckets for Ellis and Embiid, both as a result of offensive boards. When Tharpe connected on his first three of the night, the building erupted when Iowa State pulled the trigger on its first timeout – already facing a 26-11 deficit.
Hungry for their first win in Allen Fieldhouse since 2005, the Cyclones did not seem intimidated. A vicious shooting tear resulted in six-straight buckets – four from three-point territory – as KU’s once 16-point lead plummet to a mere three points, 37-34, with five minutes on the clock.
In search of a defensive stop and an offensive pick me up, Wiggins chipped in a critical three-pointer, but it was only half the battle. ISU’s Matt Thomas came back down the floor for a trey in response, tightening the already close race to halftime. Kane converted one of two from the free throw line to slice the lead to a single point. Now under a minute to play, Embiid hit both free throws for what ultimately were the last points of the half. A crucial block from Ellis sent the game to break in KU’s favor, 46-43.
The tug-of-war continued in the second half when Kane’s three-pointer tied the score at 46-46 – the tie was short lived.
Selden countered with a three just 19 seconds later, sparking a scoring spree that had temporarily abandoned the Jayhawks to end the first half. Wiggins’ make from three-point range extended the run to 11-0 before ISU had no choice other than a timeout, suddenly down 57-46.
ISU’s three-point shooting waned, making just one of their first eight attempts to start half number two, but the Cyclones shifted to driving to the basket. A string of layups and short-range jumpers dropped the KU advantage back to five, 68-63, until freshman guard Frank Mason connected on his only bucket of the night. His trey was well-timed, putting the Jayhawks back in front by eight.
Fueled and fighting, Ejim and Niang once again pulled the Cyclones within a point. After an Embiid dunk, however, ISU’s frenzy to catch the Jayhawks resulted in a flagrant foul called against Dustin Hogue. Wiggins was the shooter and connected on both, then proceeded to score six-straight en route to his career-high in points for the second-straight game.
With that, the Jayhawks took control for the last time. Ignoring emotion and Iowa State’s desperate rallies, four of KU’s five starters combined for a perfect 10-for-10 performance at the free throw line in the last 90 seconds of the game. Calm and confident, Kansas walked away with the 92-81 win.
Kansas will take a two-game road trip to the Lone Star State when the Jayhawks play at No. 25 Texas on Saturday, Feb. 1, at 3 p.m. on ESPN. KU will then travel to Baylor on Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 6 p.m. on ESPN2. The Jayhawks return home to host West Virginia on Saturday, Feb. 8, at 3 p.m. on ESPN.
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KU STARTERS (Season/Career Starts): Jr. Naadir Tharpe (17/17), Fr. Wayne Selden, Jr. (20/20), Fr. Andrew Wiggins (20/20), So. Perry Ellis (20/23), Fr. Joel Embiid (12/12)
SERIES INFO: Kansas leads 175-59
ATTENDANCE: 16,300 (207th consecutive sellout)
- Improved KU to 16-4 on the season
- Kept Kansas as the only undefeated team in Big 12 play at 7-0
- Made KU 7-0 in conference play for the third-straight season and the sixth time in the Bill Self era
- Gave the Jayhawks its fifth win over a top-25 ranked opponent over its last six games
- Made the Kansas-Iowa State series 175-59 in favor of KU, including 49-9 in Allen Fieldhouse
- Gave Kansas its fifth-straight win versus Iowa State
- Made KU 9-1 in Allen Fieldhouse this season, 170-9 under Bill Self and 708-109 all-time in the venue
- Made Bill Self 21-3 all-time against ISU (20-3 while at KU), 316-63 while at Kansas and 523-168 overall
- Made KU 2,117-816 all-time
- After the Jayhawks began the game outscoring ISU 30-14 over the first 9:19, the Cyclones responded with a 20-7 run over the next 6:16, going 5-of-6 from beyond the three-point arc in that span.
- Kansas saw all five of its starters score in double figures for the first time since all five KU starters hit double figures versus Michigan on March 29, 2013.
- KU connected on 10 three pointers on 22 attempts, both are season highs for the Jayhawks
- The Jayhawks were successful on 18 of their 21 free throw attempts, marking the second-highest free throw percentage (85.7) on the season
- Kansas was outscored in the paint (34-to-38) for just the fourth time this season.
- KU’s 19 first half field goals tied for the most in a half this season (1st half vs. Kansas State)
- Iowa State’s 48.4 percent mark from the field is the second-highest opponent FG percentage this season (Duke – 51.7 percent, 11/12/13)
- After Iowa State tied the game at 46-46 just 13 seconds into the second half, Kansas went on an 11-0 run over the next 2:14 to push its lead back to double digits, a lead KU would hold the rest of the game
- The KU bench tied its season low, scoring six points.
- The Cyclones 81 points were the most they have scored in regulation in Allen Fieldhouse since January 7, 1989 when KU emerged victorious 127-82.
- Iowa State pulled within a point with 4:30 left in regulation, however the Jayhawks closed the game outscoring the Cyclones 19-9 over the final 3:52 to seal its 16th win of the year
- KU outrebounded ISU by a margin of 10 (38-to-28), marking the 10th time the Jayhawks have outrebounded an opponent by 10 or more.
- Kansas is now 13-1 this season when shooting 50 percent or better from the field.
- In the final 1:23, KU went 10-for-10 from the free throw line.
- Freshman G Andrew Wiggins posted a career-high 29 points. His 56 points in his last two outings mark the most by a Jayhawk in a two-game span since Tyshawn Taylor also scored 56 versus Iowa State (28, 1/14/12) and Baylor (28, 1/16/12).
- Wiggins’ 10 field goals were the most by a Jayhawk this season.
- Wiggins went 5-of-6 from the charity stripe. He has connected on 24 of his last 28 free throws over the last three games.
- Wiggins’ four three pointers tied his career best. He also shot in four from beyond the arc versus Florida (12/10/13).
- Wiggins’ 29 points were the most by a KU freshman since Ben McLemore tallied 36 against West Virginia on March 2, 2013.
- Junior G Naadir Tharpe notched his first-career double-double with 12 points and a new career-high of 12 assists.
- Tharpe now has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.3:1 (39-to-12) over the first seven games of conference play, which trails only Iowa State’s Monte Morris, who has 20 assists and two turnovers (10:1) in seven games.
- Over his last five outings, Tharpe is shooting 70.4 percent from the field (19-of-27) and 62.5 percent from three-point land (10-of-16).
- Freshman C Joel Embiid collected his fifth-career double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
- The combo of Tharpe and Embiid marked the second time this season that two Jayhawks have tallied a double-double in the same game (Joel Embiid and Perry Ellis vs. Toledo, 12/30/13).
- Embiid also tallied one block on Wednesday. He now has at least one blocked shot in 14-straight games.
- Embiid now has 54 blocks on the season, moving him into a tie with Darrell Arthur for second on the all-time freshman blocks list at Kansas, trailing only Eric Chenowith (62, 1998).
- Sophomore F Perry Ellis hit the 20-point mark for the sixth time this season and seventh time in his career. He now has 20 double-figure scoring games for his career.
- Freshman G Brennan Greene hit a three-pointer for the fourth-straight game.
Kansas Head Coach Bill Self
On the team’s overall play:
“You can go down the whole list of starters, everybody did good. Na (Naadir Tharpe) did good, Frank (Mason) did good, Brannen (Greene) made a big shot and played good. Landen Lucas gave us a lot – that’s a hard match-up for Landen having to guard (Georges) Niang out on the perimeter. Offensively Perry (Ellis) was great, Joel is just getting better every game, he was solid; and certainly Naadir was great and Wigs (Andrew Wiggins) has his best offensive game all year.
“But we needed it. They shot 48 percent in our building, but the bottom line is I don’t know that we defended them that poorly – they are good. They’re really good and you have to score points in order to beat them. We got off to such a good start, then the law of averages started to prevail and then we kind of went brain dead there late in the first half. That was a really good win and of course when it got tied late the crowd was fabulous. I’m excited for our guys and I think they are pretty confident and getting better.”
On his reaction to a pivotal three point basket by Frank Mason:
“I was excited for Frank. Frank’s boy (Trey Songz) was in the house. I thought he was a little nervous when he saw him. You know Trey came to see Frank tonight, he was sitting right there in the front row. Frank may have been a little nervous, but certainly that was a big shot and he made a couple of bad plays prior to that and he needed that for his confidence.
“We did some good things late when it was a close game and I think with three or four minutes left our guys really guarded. We had three consecutive series where we had steals even though we threw one right back to them. But, I was proud of how we competed down the stretch on the defensive end.”
On Andrew Wiggins breaking his career high in four days:
“I hope this one only last for three days. He shot the ball well tonight. He did a lot of good things. That was a big offensive put-back that he had late, and he played good, everybody played good. I think we had several possessions that weren’t very bright because we should have got them inside the whole game; but we kind of got happy with shooting jumpers. When you go 10-for-22 from three, that’s a pretty good percentage. I like how we played and minimized the wasted possessions. We did pretty good on the glass as well.”
On their upcoming game at Texas:
“They’re good. They are so athletic. I don’t think we are going to play anyone more athletic than Texas all year long. They score as quickly as anyone on the perimeter. I think that will be a challenge for us. Rick (Barnes) has had them playing with a lot of confidence and they are playing with nothing to lose. When you think about if they are able to knock us off they are just one game out in the league race, so this will be a huge opportunity for us to put some distance between us and a couple of other teams. Hopefully we will go down there and give a great effort.”
Kansas junior guard Naadir Tharpe
On his 12 assists and what he was seeing on the court tonight:
“I kind of felt on the ball-screens they were coming at me more. Toward the end they tried to trap me a little bit, but I knew I had to get dudes involved and get them going. That is the most important thing. I was just trying to draw defenders and find the open man and they were just knocking down shots. A couple of interior passes to the bigs, and they would just finish themselves. That’s what we needed.”
On starting 7-0 in Big 12 Conference play:
“I’m not surprised at all because Coach (Self) prepares us. We got prepared for the regular season to play those games. During practice, Coach gets after us and we get after each other. I knew it was going to be a matter of time until everybody just let water run off their back and start going out there and just playing. That is what I feel like dudes are doing right now.”
On what he is seeing in Andrew Wiggins compared to a month ago:
“He is just going out there and just playing basketball. I feel like at the beginning — and I talk to him about this a lot — he was just going out there trying to think and trying to make everybody else happy. That is not what he needs to do, he needs to go out there and play for himself, play for his team. Once he goes out there and just plays loose and plays live, you see what happens. When he stays aggressive, that is what we need from him.”
On his growing confidence in his game:
“I just want to try and do as much as I can to help out the team. Coach has put the ball in my hand and given me the chance to make plays and have everybody follow me. That is what I am trying to do out there every night when I play, no matter what it is, if it is scoring or assists. I am just trying to go out there and help my team. Right now, I think everything is happening how we want it to.”
Kansas sophomore forward Perry Ellis
On his good start to the game, hitting eight of his first nine shots from the field:
“Coach is always telling me to attack and I try to do that. They were feeding me the ball, and I was trying to attack when they played some zone. The key was just to be aggressive.”
On the Iowa State team and how they kept their composure:
“Coach (Self) talks about that all the time. We have to have great composure. They’re going to go on streaks and we did well. We fought when they went on runs and it went well.”
Kansas freshman guard Andrew Wiggins
On feeling comfortable on the court and getting into a groove:
“I would say I feel more comfortable on the court. A lot of things are slowing down for me and my teammates are looking for me. Naadir (Tharpe) had 12 assists today, he was looking to get the whole team involved and that is what it’s about.”
On if anything the Iowa State players did or said got him going:
“There really wasn’t any trash talking. I know a lot of them, so it was more like friendly chit-chat.”
On how big the intentional foul play was:
“We just pushed the ball ahead, and I took it strong to the basket. He fouled me hard, and we got two points and the ball back, so it was a big play and a great possession.”
On if he thought the foul on him was intentional:
“Yeah, I did. Just the way I felt after, it hurt, so I thought something was wrong. (It was) not like a normal foul.”
On if the momentum changed after the intentional foul:
“I think that fired us up a little bit and gave us more momentum to go through the whole game.”
On how Naadir Tharpe has gotten better throughout the season:
“He has always been a good leader. His leadership roles are going out of the roof. Whenever I have a question on the court, or second guess something, I always go to him for advice. He is getting all of us involved, and that is what we need from our point guard.”
On his breakaway dunk:
“It is better safe than sorry. I didn’t know who was behind me, and how fast they were going, so I was just trying to make the safe basket. Two points is two points at the end of the day.”
Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg
On the flagrant foul:
“It looked to me like Dustin (Hogue) was trying to prevent the layup, but I didn’t get an opportunity to see a replay of it. It was a big play. Their lead went from three to seven in the last three minutes. I think we missed an open look the last time down and they got it up to double digits. It’s a big play. I’m not going to say anything bad, I thought Dustin was trying to make a good play on the ball. I’ll have to look at it on film to see if he wasn’t going after the ball, but I think Dustin was just trying to prevent a layup.”
On the opening parts of each half:
“They came out on fire. I’ve been in this building enough as a player, as a coach, as a scout and it happens pretty much every game. They come out and hit their shots early and you have to withstand those runs. You have to give them a lot of credit, they do such a good job of jumping on you. You can’t panic and we didn’t. I give our guys credit for getting back in the game and cutting it to one late. They came back out in the second half and they were hitting shots. We had good looks, very good looks that we hit, especially the last 15 minutes of the first half, that we just didn’t knock down.
“They are coming out and hitting threes. We wanted to try and protect the paint, because they have a huge size advantage on us. We missed some rotations early as well. They missed their first eight shots, but they got six of them back and then the rest of the half, they got one offensive rebound. That’s what allowed us to get back in the game in the second half. We climbed back in it and gave ourselves a chance. At the end of the day, that’s what I told our guys; we gave ourselves an opportunity in as tough of an enviorment as we are going to play in.”
On if this Kansas team could run the table in the Big 12:
“Sure, I think so. If they are hitting shots like that, that is going to be a tough, tough team to beat. With (Andrew) Wiggins out there hitting threes, (Wayne) Selden hits a couple and Frank Mason hits a huge three late. We went under on a ball screen and he rose up and knocked it down. You have to give the kid credit for having the stones to knock that one down.”
On Andrew Wiggins:
“He’s so aggressive right now. You can tell he’s oozing with confidence. That is scary; with that athleticism, that length and that speed, the kid’s got it all. When he’s knocking down shots, (there are) not too many better.”
Iowa State senior guard DeAndre Kane
On the slow start to begin each half:
“We were missing shots and they were making shots. It wasn’t anything we did wrong. Defensively, we did our job. Principles, we were in the right spots. They were making shots. Guys that haven’t shot that well all year were making shots for them. They played a hell of a game, but we’ll bounce back.”
On the play of freshman Montè Morris:
“I thought he played good. He had four points and one assist. He controlled the game. He’s a freshman that is getting better every day. We expect a lot out of Montè. Coach (Fred Hoiberg) played him and I thought he played good.”
On trying to keep up in such a fast-paced game:
“We just stayed poised. We knew they would go on runs in this building. Like Coach said, they have only lost nine times in the past 11 years. We knew they were going to make runs, but we need to stay poised and go on runs too. We think we did a good job of that. They got up big on us in the first couple minutes, but we came back. That’s what championship teams do, they fight. I’m proud of my team. We fought for all 40 minutes, but we came up short. We will get into practice tomorrow and correct some things.”
Iowa State sophomore forward Georges Niang
On the outcome of the game:
“I think we had a good defensive scheme out there. We got down early, but we battled back. They made some tough shots to beat us; kudos to them. They played a hell of a game, especially (Andrew) Wiggins.”
On Kansas’ size and length:
“They are a good team. They play to their strengths, they go inside to (Joel) Embiid and they pressure on defense so he can block shots. They play to their strengths. It’s just like playing any other team. Every other team has length, but they do a good job of using it.”
On where the game got away from them:
“I couldn’t really tell you. That flagrant call was a pretty big call. I am not saying it was a bad call or anything, but that is where they took off. They knocked down both of their free-throws and then made a layup. Anytime you can have four-unanswered points, that’s huge.”
On not being phased when down 30-14:
“It doesn’t bother us at all. We know what we are capable of and we came out and stubbed our toe early. We knew we had to battle back and our backs were against the wall, but we don’t worry in this circle. We put our hat on and kept going.”
On the team’s improved play in Lawrence as opposed to Ames:
“We did everything better here than when we played back home. We had a bad shooting night, they caught us on a bad night. Tonight, we shot the ball pretty well. We got back to playing like we do. The game at home was the game at home and we just finished this one, so I just think we got in the gym and got some shots up.”