While it’s rare not to see Kansas atop the Big 12 Conference standings in the middle of February, the third-ranked Jayhawks are just a game off the league lead and surging as they host resilient Iowa State on Monday in Lawrence, Kan.
The Jayhawks (22-3, 11-1 in Big 12 play) have won 10 straight games, the latest an 87-70 wipeout of Oklahoma at home on Saturday. That victory featured a career-high 24 points from Marcus Garrett, who canned six 3-pointers after making five from beyond the arc in his first 11 Big 12 games combined.
Devon Dotson added 19 points and Udoka Azubuike had 15 points and 17 rebounds in the win to tally his 18th career double-double and 11th this season. Azubuike’s 17 rebounds tied his career high.
As big as Garrett was on the offensive end, it was his defensive play that helped spark the Jayhawks. Garrett’s two steals led to four straight Kansas points and kicked off a 15-5 run over the final 4:40 of the first half to turn a one-point deficit into a nine-point lead, 41-32, at halftime.
Kansas’ scoring surge overflowed into the second half, as the Jayhawks came out of the break on a 16-5 run over the first five minutes.
“We did play decent offensively, we got the ball where it needed to go,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “I thought we missed a ton of layups in the first half. It’s not very often that we shoot better from the 3-point line than we do from two. Marcus (Garrett) was unbelievable both halves, and he was by far the best player in the game for us. All in all, we’ll take it.”
The Cyclones head to Lawrence on the heels of perhaps their best game in months, an 81-52 win at home over short-handed Texas on Saturday.
Michael Jacobson had 21 points and 13 rebounds in the win while Prentiss Nixon and Solomon Young scored 17 points each for the Cyclones (11-14, 4-8 in Big 12 play), who have won two of their past three games but just three of their past 10 outings.
“What I told the team when we turned to the back nine of the league was ‘man, let’s go out and see how many we can win,'” coach Steve Prohm told the Des Moines Register. “We’ve got a chance to have a winning record and a good record to close the back nine.”
Rasir Bolton added 10 points for Iowa State, which outshot Texas 57 percent to 29 percent and had a 40-27 edge on the glass.
The Cyclones were missing star guard Tyrese Haliburton, who is out for the year with a broken wrist, for the second straight game, but easily dispatched the toothless Longhorns. It was Iowa State’s most lopsided win ever against Texas.
“We knew we had to come ready,” Jacobson said. “At this point in the season, it’s do-or-die mentality for us. We came together. The biggest thing for us all year is to try to find consistency. We’ve got some pieces. We’ve got some talent. We just haven’t been able to put it together on a nightly basis.”
Kansas is 183-66 all-time against Iowa State, which includes a 79-53 win in this season’s first meeting on Jan. 8 in Ames. The Jayhawks are 94-16 vs. Iowa State in games in Lawrence. Kansas has won 13 of the last 14 games against the Cyclones at Allen Fieldhouse.
–Field Level Media