Early strong moves to the basket set the tone and rhythm for a scrappy Iowa State squad. They took advantage of the KU bigs early in the game which led to effective short range jumps shots and an early first half lead. KU would go on a run to cut the lead to 2 going into the break in front of the amped home crowd.
Early in the second half KU had seemed to find a bright spot amongst the bigs in Jeff Withey. The KU center came out the gate blocking shots and making his presence known in the paint. Iowa state continued to feed their staple big man Royce White and the battle down low began to rack up fouls on KU’s Robinson and Withey midway through the first half.
With the Kansas duo in foul trouble the Hurricanes ran wild under the bucket. KU attempted to sub at a feverish pace to find an answer, but the answer did not come from the bench.
With the lack of a solid bench performance, the hawks could not right the sinking ship against a salty Iowa State rally late in the second half. The court was stormed by a sea of yellow after the final buzzer sang with an Iowa State upset 72-64.
It was hard to miss that with the physical play down low, the lack of depth was a glaring factor down the stretch for KU. The Kansas bigs found themselves in early second half foul trouble and as a result had to play careful defense. That toned down defense would lead to Iowa State outrebounding KU and halting Kansas’s offense attack.
As the big twelve rolls on, it will be interesting to watch and see if other teams begin to successfully expose the lean Kansas bench. Iowa State did a perfect job of continuing to feed the inside and either drawing a foul, getting points or both. There were several possessions in the second half when a guard would have an open shot only to turn it down and pass to the rim for a closer, higher percentage look. This type of team play is refreshing to see and only shows that Iowa State under its new leadership is going to be a factor to be recon with down the road in future big 12 matchups.
With all that said, the sky is not falling over Lawrence, Kansas. This year’s squad is a mixture of athletes who have been waiting in the shadows, not quite battle tested, but hungry for what has seemed to be just out of reach. As the games go by, lessons are being learned. The coach is coaching and the body of work at the end of the season may just be his finest work yet. Time will only tell.
KU will meet Oklahoma at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Allen Fieldhouse.