Rushed Reactions: #13 Iowa State 70, #9 Kansas 66

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 14th, 2015

rushedreactions

In a Big 12 Tournament final for the ages, Iowa State wiped away yet *another* double-figure deficit to beat Kansas, 70-66, becoming the first non-Kansas team to repeat at the event since Oklahoma State in 2004-05.

Three Key Takeaways.

The Cyclones raise another Big 12 Tournament trophy. (Charlie Litchfield/Des Moines Register)

The Cyclones raise another Big 12 Tournament trophy. (Charlie Litchfield/Des Moines Register)

  1. Iowa State takes over in the second half: The Cyclones were flat-out dominant after halftime. After Kansas point guard Frank Mason buried three free throws to put Kansas up 17 early in the second stanza, the Cyclones went on a 32-11 run to take the lead with 7:04 remaining and eventually closed the game out. The absence of Cliff Alexander, the limited mobility of Perry Ellis in his second game back from a knee injury, and the inexperience of Hunter Mickelson and Landen Lucascaught up with the Jayhawks. The anatomy of the Cyclones’ comeback included a complete takeover of the paint by Georges Niang, Abdel Nader and Jameel McKay and numerous stops of Kansas’ guard-led attack. The most jarring angle of Iowa State’s comeback was the fact that they made only one three-pointer in the second half yet were able to erase their biggest deficit of the game in under 10 minutes. The Jayhawks had a chance to tie the game late, but Iowa State easily identified “Chop,” Kansas’ go-to play when they need a late three-pointer, and Dustin Hogue snuffed it out. The Cyclones have been the target of some light criticism for failing to end Kansas’ regular season Big 12 domination over the last several years, but they ultimately got the last laugh.
  2. Kansas’ defensive interior was exposed.  As mentioned, the Cyclones worked over Kansas in the paint without mercy. Iowa State’s movement was fantastic, leading to tons of close looks without the benefit of post touches. Whether it was MonteMorris or Niang bringing the rock down the court, their ball-handlers didn’t encounter any pressure, finishing the game with one of its lowest turnover rates all season (8.8%). Additionally, only one shot attempt was blocked by the Jayhawks. Torching them on the pick-and-roll, the Cyclones had no trouble getting into the lane. Self shook out his entire toolbox onto the Sprint Center floor, throwing a 3-2 zone, a 1-2-2 look and even a lineup featuring two centers in Lucas and Mickelson, but none of those defensive schemes were able to generate the stops necessary for Kansas to pull out the win today.
  3. Wayne Selden played another terrific game. Perhaps the biggest reason Kansas was able to build a significant lead in the first half was the tremendous effort and production from the second-year guard. On Friday, Selden mostly used his strength and aggressiveness to get things done, but tonight it was his jumper. The shots he attempted weren’t always smart, but he poured in a career-high 25 points on an efficient 12 shots (one of them being this tantalizing lob from Frank Mason). A deep tournament run may not ultimately be in the cards for the Jayhawks this month, but Selden’s effectiveness adds a wrinkle to Kansas’ attack and makes it reasonable to entertain the possibility of Kansas playing into the second weekend and, with a few breaks, beyond.

Quotable.

  • Bill Self: “I obviously applaud Iowa State’s people because I don’t know how in the world they can get 10,000 people in this building and have 5,000 waiting to get in that can’t get in.  It’s unbelievable how they took over downtown. And our fans were good today, too, but their fans certainly ‑‑ I guess it’s a destination, Kansas City is, for their fans because they packed ’em in here.” For the second consecutive season, the Iowa State contingency traveled extremely well, and for the second straight season, Iowa State won the Big 12 Tournament. Off-campus arenas like the Sprint Center typically draw a lot of ire due to the huge contrast in noise and the challenges of shuttling students in, but the environment Saturday night was about as frenzied as a “neutral” site can get. Both teams’ fan bases brought high levels of enthusiasm, but the Cyclones’ contingency is what the college atmosphere is all about and they were able to replicate that on Saturday.
  • Fred Hoiberg: “If we can get hot and keep the confidence going, that’s, I think, the biggest thing in a three‑day run like this against three great teams is it breeds confidence in your players. They can battle through anything. No lead is insurmountable. And you find a way to battle and bounce back and I think from a confidence standpoint it certainly helps your team. Yesterday, I touched on the fact that digging out of deficits like these isn’t a sustainable model, but I do think there is something to the idea that the confidence such comebacks can generate can be lethal for opposing teams moving forward. The margin of error for Iowa State is going to shrink in the NCAA Tournament, but good luck to any team that thinks it can slam on the gas against perhaps the most resilient squad going right now.

What’s Next

  • Iowa State: The comeback kids will take their show to the Big Dance for a school-record fourth consecutive year. With Omaha as a probable first-weekend destination, the team’s rabid fan base won’t have any trouble turning out in Nebraska.
  • Kansas: With a top-four seed locked down even before tonight’s championship game, getting everyone rested and healthy is the biggest priority between now and the team’s first NCAA Tournament game. Not only is Perry Ellis recovering from a sprained knee, but Lucas is dinged up and Frank Mason has played an insane number of minutes for the Jayhawks. Even at full strength, however, Kansas’ struggles on the interior make its chances to get to the second weekend worthy of some serious examination.
Brian Goodman (967 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.


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