AMES — Iowa State sent a statement to the rest of the Big 12 and college basketball Saturday at Hilton Coliseum.
The Cyclones beat No. 6 Kansas 77-60.
The Cyclones didn’t just win, in the words of Kansas Coach Bill Self, “Iowa State manhandled us.”
Iowa State closed the first half on a 6-0 run to take a 36-32 lead into halftime.
In the second half, the Cyclones (12-2, 2-0) hit a whirlwind of 3-pointers. Iowa State made 9-of-13 3-point attempts in the half.
The four main guards for Iowa State — Nick Weiler-Babb, Tyrese Haliburton, Marial Shayok and Lindell Wigginton — went 9-of-11 from 3-point range in the second half.
“We have great perimeter depth,” Iowa State Coach Steve Prohm said. “The biggest thing I told our team is we have to sell out on the defensive end and be selfless offensively. We have four or five guys on the perimeter that can get 20 points on any given night.”
Self, who has had great guards at Kansas (12-2, 1-1) over the last five-plus years, praised ISU’s guards after the game. He knows a good backcourt when he sees one, having most recently coached the likes of Devonte Graham and Frank Mason.
“Weiler-Babb, Haliburton, Wigginton and Shayok, those four guards can play for anybody in the country. Anybody,” Self said. “They’re part of the rotations for the best teams in the country.”
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Shayok led the Cyclones in scoring with 24 points on 9-for-12 shooting, including 5-for-5 from 3-point range. Haliburton added 14 points on 4-for-5 3-point shooting. Weiler-Babb had 12 points and Wigginton had just eight points, all in the second half.
Iowa State got open looks from beyond the arc because of its ball movement. The Cyclones assisted on 18 of their 28 made baskets, led by freshman Talen Horton-Tucker, who had five assists and no turnovers. Four Iowa State players dished at least three assists.
“Ball movement and making the extra pass,” Haliburton said. “We have a lot of skilled guys and the opponent has to not close short but close long on us and we’ll swing it to get open looks. The more we moved the ball, dribble drive, paint touches, things like that, we’re going to get a lot of open looks. Today, we knocked them down.”
Selflessness is one of Prohm’s keys to Iowa State having a successful season. The other is intensity on the defensive end, which Iowa State also showed Saturday.
The Cyclones forced 24 Kansas turnovers, with Weiler-Babb and Haliburton each nabbing four steals. Six of the seven Cyclones to play significant minutes had at least one steal. The only one who didn’t was Cam Lard, who blocked two shots.
Iowa State doubled the post almost every time Kansas’ best player, Dedric Lawson, touched the ball. The plan rattled him as he turned the ball over six times and only shot 5-for-11 from the field.
Kansas played without injured forward Udoka Azubuike (13.4 points per game).
“When we defend, get stops and get out in transition, we feel like that’s when we’re at our best,” Haliburton said. “We defended well in the second half and played in transition. That’s what helped us pull away.”
Shayok is a Virginia transfer who has played on conference championship teams in the ACC. The Big 12 still goes through 14-time defending champion Kansas, but Iowa State appears to be among the challengers once again this season after a brief hiatus last year.
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“We’re right there,” Shayok said. “We have the talent for sure. We’re going to learn as the games go on with the experience we have with me, Weiler-Babb and (Michael) Jacobson teaching the young guys.
“That’s the thing about the young guys, they pick it up so quick.”
Iowa State showed what it could do with a full, healthy roster. This was Iowa State’s largest margin of victory against an AP top-five opponent ever. It’s also Iowa State’s largest margin of victory over Kansas since 1973, when the Cyclones beat the Jayhawks 89-65.
Wisely, Prohm isn’t ready to crown his team yet.
“I like our group, but this is game two (in the Big 12),” Prohm said. “We have nine more weeks of this.”
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