Senior guard Ryan Cobbins made two late free throws with 10.4 seconds remaining to ice the game as the Kansas Jayhawks held on to defeat the Iowa State Cyclones 60-58 at Allen Fieldhouse in Wednesday night conference action.
Both teams struggled to score early. The Jayhawks started the first quarter shooting 1- 8 from the field and 1- 4 from beyond the arc, while Iowa State shot just 2-10 from the floor at the first media timeout.
The Cyclones offense began to flow through freshman center Audi Crooks, who was a problem for the Jayhawks on both ends of the floor. The 6’3 hefty freshman provided Iowa State with a massive size advantage against the Kansas frontcourt. S’Mya Nichols drove the lane and scored to put the Jayhawks up 10-8 before the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter started rough for the Jayhawks’ defense. The size advantage of Audi Crooks forced Kansas’ coach Brandon Schneider to rotate between Taiyanna Jackson and Danai Papadopoulou to try and limit her offensively.
After both teams struggled to score in the first quarter, the shots began to fall. Despite Iowa State shooting 46.2% from the floor and the Jayhawks shooting 40.0%, the game was tied going into halftime.
In the third quarter, Iowa State continued to pound the ball inside to Audi Crooks who dominated the glass and finished at the rim. Crooks’ athleticism and strength wore down Kansas’ senior center Taiyanna Jackson, who left the game early in the second half after committing her third foul. Crooks had 15 points through three quarters, however, the Jayhawks led 41-40 going into the final quarter.
However, the game continued to go back and forth to the end. Late in the fourth quarter, Zakiyah Franklin missed a layup inside after a second-chance possession and the Cyclones had one last opportunity after a timeout with 37.1 seconds remaining trailing 56-55.
The Jayhawks’ defense got a huge stop, forcing a tie-up with Iowa State and getting the ball back with the possession arrow indicating Kansas basketball with 18.3 seconds remaining. Clutch free-throw shooting from Zakiyah Franklin and Ryan Cobbins solidified the win.
Freshman phenom S’Mya Nichols spoke on the team’s performance after the game. The
freshman guard led Kansas with 16 points and made big plays down the stretch. “I feel like we had the momentum and the energy, we were the more determined team,” she said.
Audi Crooks, who finished the game with a career-high 25 points, received praise after the loss..
“Crooks is a terrific young player, one of the best freshmen in the country and is gonna be a problem in this league for a long time,” said Kansas coach Brenden Schneider. Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly gave praise to the Jayhawks post-game. “KU made the plays that we couldn’t make, they hit some tough shots down the stretch that we didn’t.”
With the win, Kansas moves to 10-9 overall and 3-5 in Big 12 conference play while Iowa State falls to 12-6 overall and 6-2 in conference play.
Kansas will go to Norman, Oklahoma on Saturday, Jan. 27 to face the Oklahoma Sooners. Tipoff is set for 6:00 p.m. CT and coverage will be available on ESPN+ and the Jayhawk Radio Network.