Balanced attack leads Kansas past Iowa State, 83-77
AMES, Iowa – All five Jayhawk starters scored in double figures as No. 13/13 Kansas outlasted the Iowa State Cyclones, 83-77, Tuesday night inside Hilton Coliseum. Sophomore center Udoka Azubuike and junior guard Lagerald Vick accounted for 25 of their team’s 44 second-half points as KU shot a blistering 62 percent from the field over the final 20 minutes to hand the Jayhawks their first regular-season sweep of the Cyclones since 2014.
The win moved the Jayhawks to 20-6, 9-4 in league play, and gave Kansas 20 wins for the 29th-consecutive season, adding to the longest-active NCAA record streak. Iowa State fell to 13-12 in its 2017-18 campaign, with a 4-9 record in the Big 12.
After connecting on just 14 of their 36 first-half field goals, the Jayhawks heated up in the second frame with torrid outside shooting from Vick and redshirt-sophomore Malik Newman and dominating post presence from Azubuike. KU missed only 10 of its 26 shots attempts over the final 20 minutes, and added four 3-pointers to extend a four-point halftime lead to double-digits in the heart of the second half.
Both squads got out to slow starts in the early moments of the game. KU and ISU combined for just three field goals in the opening four minutes as well as five turnovers. Azubuike helped the Jayhawks weather the early storm, netting each of his team’s first seven points. But Kansas went more than three minutes with only one field goal and the Cyclones took advantage. ISU used a 7-2 run to build its largest lead of the half, with Zoran Talley Jr.’s 3-pointer at the 12:13 mark handing the Cyclones a 17-11 lead.
Devonte’ Graham responded shortly thereafter and kick-started a strong KU finish to the half. The senior guard his first trey of the game less than 20 seconds later and the Jayhawks were off and running. A 16-4 KU run, capped by back-to-back threes from Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, got the visitors out to a six-point lead of their own, 27-21, with just under seven minutes to go in regulation.
While Kansas didn’t tally a single turnover during the final 11 minutes of play, the Jayhawk defense forced five Cyclone giveaways in that same span to help keep ISU at arm’s length.
Newman highlighted the Jayhawks’ strong finish to the half with three of his 10 first-half points coming on a 3-point play with just over a minute remaining on the clock. Freshman Silvio De Sousa came off the bench and added three points of his own in the final minute as KU claimed its first lead into halftime in its last three outings.
Despite the Cyclones shooting better than 54 percent from the field in the first half, the Jayhawks took a 39-34 lead into the halftime locker room despite shooting under 39 percent in the opening 20 minutes.
The Jayhawks put their poor first half-shooting behind them to start the second stanza. KU connected on five of its first six shots, including a pair of Vick 3-pointers and three-straight buckets from Azubuike to get its lead into double digits for the first time, leading 49-38 less than four minutes after the restart.
A 13-6 Iowa State stretch brought the Cyclones within three points by the midway point of the half, but the Jayhawks again had an answer.
After four-straight free throws from Graham and Newman, Vick got to the rim to lay in two of his 16 points to put the Jayhawks up by seven, 66-59, with 8:29 left in regulation. A pair of Mykhailiuk charities kick started a 10-2 Kansas run that effectively put the Cyclones away with back-to-back lob dunks from Azubuike spreading the Kansas lead back to double-figures at 76-63.
ISU made it interesting down the closing stretch, pulling within four points in the final minute thanks to same errant Jayhawk free throw shooting. However, Kansas was able to hold on and secured the 83-77 win, its third victory inside Hilton Coliseum in the last five seasons.
Azubuike led the Jayhawks with 19 points on another efficient shooting night, going 9-of-10 from the field. Newman and Vick were close behind with 17 and 16 points, respectively, combining to go 6-of-12 from beyond the 3-point line. Graham and Mykhailiuk rounded out the Jayhawks to score in double figures, adding 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Kansas will host West Virginia on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 5 p.m. (CST) on ESPN. From 10-11 a.m., ESPN’s College GameDay will originate from Allen Fieldhouse for the eighth time in the 15-year history of the show. Kansas leads the overall series with West Virginia, 8-4, including a 71-66 win in Morgantown earlier this season on Jan. 15.
The KU-WVU contest will not only feature ESPN College GameDay, but Kansas will also celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the 2008 NCAA National Championship team and have the jersey retirement of Cole Aldrich.
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