AMES — Iowa State had won seven of its previous 13 men’s basketball games against mighty Kansas, including a 78-66 victory in last March’s Big 12 tournament title game.
That feels a lot longer than 10 months ago, especially considering what happened Wednesday night in Hilton Coliseum.
The Cyclones had their usual packed house and charged fans for a Kansas game, but the 14,384 in attendance didn’t get the usual two hours of electricity a KU-ISU game brings here. They got 15 minutes of competitive ballgame and 25 minutes of being on the wrong side of a rout.
Maybe it was fitting this game wasn’t a national-television extravaganza like so many of their meetings have been. It wasn’t good TV, though the arena-jarring, one-handed slam dunk off a rebound by Jayhawk big man David McCormack surely was a moment.
No. 3 Kansas finished the first half with a 21-3 run for a 46-26 halftime lead, displaying such a clear-cut advantage in talent that there was no need for fans to waste too much lung power this time around.
Kansas put a 79-53 hurting on the Cyclones, who are 7-7 and not on the men’s college basketball map this winter.
Losing isn’t fun.
Winning is fun.
Isaiah Moss is part of something that is big fun, a 12-2 Kansas club whose only losses were by two points to Duke in New York and one to Villanova in Philadelphia.
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Moss left Iowa after last season, a graduate transfer seeking something. Playing time? Nope. He started every game last season and 96 over three years. He scored 16 points in the Hawkeyes’ second-round NCAA tournament overtime loss to Tennessee last March.
First, Moss said he was going to Arkansas, which had a new coach in Eric Musselman. He would be a central figure in Musselman’s transition season.
Then Bill Self, the coach of a Kansas program with as much college basketball cachet as any in America, called. Moss answered.
“We talked about me being a shooter,” Moss said after Wednesday’s game. “A lot of guys on the team last year didn’t shoot it so well.”
In this game, Moss played 17 minutes off the bench, was 1 of 5 from the floor, scored two points, and didn’t touch the ball much.
Kansas’ starting five is sensational. Moss is a role player.
“It’s different,” he said. “Obviously, I’m not used to it.
“It’s a different role. I’ve got to continue to keep working no matter what. That’s what I’m going to do, and see what happens from there.”
He is a player in the rotation, mind you, not a spectator. He averages 20.8 minutes and 6.8 points. Those numbers are down from last season at Iowa when his were 24.1 minutes and 9.2 points. He also is on a team with some dynamic players who get the ball. Included are two of the 25 Wooden Award midseason watchlist players, guard Devon Dotson and center Udoka Azubuike.
But Moss has scored in double-digits just three times, and was scoreless in two of the three games immediately before this one. He had 15 double-digit scoring games last season.
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Clearly, he wanted out of Iowa. Never verbose, Moss didn’t feel compelled to state last spring why he chose to leave the Hawkeyes, nor does he now.
“I really don’t know how to answer that question, to be honest,” he said.
It was more like he simply didn’t want to answer it, which is fine. He made his choice, he badmouthed no one after the fact, and Wednesday he said he’s liked what he’s seen from this season’s Hawkeyes when he’s had the chances to watch them on television.
“It’s great. It’s amazing what Luka (Garza) is doing,” Moss said. “I’m super-happy for him. I just tell him to keep going.”
The reality, though, is that if a team is playing deep into this year’s NCAA tournament, it almost surely will be the one Moss is on instead of the one he left.
“It’s a prestigious program,” said Moss. “Hall of Fame coach. It’s a winning program. That’s what I wanted to do for my last season is win.”
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