In the Big 12, any road win should be considered a good win. Particularly when that road win occurs in Ames, Iowa, where the Kansas Jayhawks had lost their past two games prior to Monday night’s 76-72 win over the Iowa State Cyclones.
Despite the close score, Iowa State never led, except for right out of the gate when they took an early 8-6 advantage. But that was erased quickly with a 5-0 run by, as always, Frank Mason, to give the Jayhawks an 11-8 lead. Mason led the team in scoring (again) with 16 points, and he added 6 rebounds as well.
Some strong play from Lagerald Vick and Carlton Bragg off of the bench helped Kansas extend the lead to 26-16 with just under 10 minutes remaining in the half. Bragg finished with 10 points and 6 rebounds in what was probably the best game he’s played this season (more on that later). Vick also played a nice all-around game with 8 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Some solid play from Deonte Burton, who gave the Kansas defense fits all night, was the main reason for the Cyclones trimming the 10 point deficit to just six at the half. Burton and Monte Morris paced the Cyclones, finishing with 21 and 23 points respectively.
The back and forth affair continued in the second half, with Kansas extending the lead back out to 10, only for Iowa State to answer with a run of their own. But still, Kansas got buckets when they had to, while Iowa State continually resorted to isolation plays.
When Iowa State cut the lead to just four after the under-four timeout, Kansas answered with a 6-0 run with baskets from Josh Jackson, Landen Lucas, and Frank Mason. Lucas continued his stellar Big 12 play with 14 points and 6 rebounds.
Jackson struggled all night, finishing with just 6 points on 3-11 from the floor, but he did contribute in other areas, leading the team with 8 rebounds and showing some more nice passing with five assists. And he had this monster block:
Iowa State made it interesting with a couple of late three-pointers, but a Devonte’ Graham free throw with 11 seconds left sealed the game, improving Kansas to 6-0 in Big 12 play, a full game ahead of both Baylor and West Virginia
Other notes from the game
As mentioned earlier, Carlton Bragg definitely had his most complete effort of the season. It wasn’t without some of the unfortunately normal mistakes, like careless passes and missed layups, but I thought he did the best job of any Jayhawk on Deonte Burton, and seemed more active than normal.
Kansas attempted the least amount of three-pointers that they have since Big 12 play began (15), which, of course, means that they also took the highest amount of two-point field goals since Big 12 play began (47). Kansas played a lot more high-low tonight than they traditionally have this season, but many people, myself included, think that Kansas needs to shoot a lot of threes to really be successful this season. And I still think that. So I was hoping that the three-point attempts would be trending in the opposite direction at this point in the season, but Kansas won a tough game on the road, so I guess we’ll see about this one going forward.
Kansas has generally done a good job limiting the turnovers this year. At just over 12 per game coming into Monday’s game, they were 57th in the country. However, they committed 18 on Monday, including four apiece from Lucas and Jackson, who were doubled everytime they touched the ball inside the arc. Let’s just hope this is a blip on the radar, especially with a game against West Virginia lurking next week.
Kansas won the rebounding battle, 41-24. Iowa State is by no means a great rebounding team, but it’s refreshing to see Kansas take care of business in this category when they struggled there so mightily earlier in the season.