AMES — This is the only time in Bill Self’s memory that he wasn’t sweating bullets in the final minutes of a game at Hilton Coliseum.
His No. 3-ranked Kansas men’s basketball team jumped out to a 20-point halftime lead and never looked back on Wednesday. The Jayhawks thumped Iowa State 79-53.
With 1:30 left in the game, Iowa State was down 31 points and was within range of its worst home conference loss ever, a 29-point setback in 2003 against Kansas.
“We aren’t getting it done defensively,” Iowa State forward Michael Jacobson said. “They were 10-for-19 from 3-point range and 28-for-54 from the field. It comes down to defense because if we can’t get stops, then we can’t get out in transition and that’s a huge part of our offense. That killed us.”
Kansas’ Devon Dotson, Ochai Abaji, David McCormack and Udoka Azubuike were all lights out for the Jayhawks.
The quartet combined for 62 points on 22-of-36 shooting.
Iowa State only had two players score in double figures. Rasir Bolton has 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting and Jacobson had 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting.
The Cyclones were within two points with 10 minutes left in the first half, down 25-23, then the Jayhawks went on a 17-3 run and never looked back. Iowa State only scored 30 points in the remaining 30 minutes of the game.
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Kansas took control of the game offensively by pounding the ball inside to Azubuike and McCormack and by hitting 6 of 8 first-half 3-point attempts.
“You prepare for Udoka, you prepare for Udoka and you prepare for Udoka and you prepare for Dotson and his penetration and then they killed us from 3,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said. “When they’re making them at that pace, they’re a tough out.”
Kansas made Tyrese Haliburton a non factor. Iowa State’s star sophomore only had five points on 2-of-7 shooting. He also had an uncharacteristic three turnovers to just five assists.
“We couldn’t get a stop and didn’t score,” Haliburton said. “That’s not a recipe for success.”
Kansas held Iowa State to just 34 percent shooting from the field and 28 percent shooting from 3-point range.
While ISU’s offense was bad, Prohm said the defense was the problem.
He didn’t see his team play with the toughness he wants it to.
Prohm referenced Iowa State’s win against Seton Hall earlier in the season multiple times as an example of the toughness he wants to see. The problem is, there have been more defensive efforts like Kansas — the Iowa game is an example of another poor defensive effort — than there have been like the Seton Hall game.
Iowa State (7-7, 0-2 Big 12) is on a three-game losing streak and has lost four of its last five.
“We have to figure out how to get that swagger and toughness back on the defensive end,” Prohm said. “I like our guys and believe in our guys. Now it’s about character and it’s a gut check. We have to be ready to respond.
“We’re capable, we’ve done it. Watch Seton Hall — we did it against them. We didn’t guard Kansas tonight — beginning to end.”
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