I’m not sure that No. 16 Iowa State could have played much better than they did on Wednesday night in Lawrence.
Georges Niang shook off a horrendous performance in the first game against No. 6 Kansas, finishing with 24 points on 10-for-17 shooting. DeAndre Kane added 22 points and Melvin Ejim finished with 18. The Cyclones handled a furious start from Kansas, where the Jayhawks seemed poised to turn this game into a rout, erasing what was at one point a 16 point first half lead and getting within 46-43 by the break.
It was much of the same in the second half, as Iowa State had an answer for just about every Jayhawk blow.
And it still wasn’t enough. Kansas pulled away down the stretch thanks to a career-high 29 points from Andrew Wiggins, who led five players in double figures. Embiid and Perry Ellis combined for 34 points and 17 boards while Naadir Tharpe had arguably the best game of his Kansas career, finishing with 12 points, 12 assists and just a single turnover.
In other words, Kansas looked like the best team in the country on Wednesday night.
And the Cyclones were right there with them. In Phog Allen Fieldhouse.
It’s hard to come away from that performance anything but impressed. Sure, you’d like to see that defense improve, but Iowa State could not possibly matchup more poorly with Kansas. And, quite frankly, the Jayhawks are not an easy team to stop when Wiggins, Ellis and Tharpe play like they did tonight.
This was the fourth loss in the last five games for the Cyclones, but three of those four came on the road and the home loss was against the Jayhawks. We know what this team is. As long as they win their home games and beat the teams they’re supposed to be on the road, they’ll be fine.
A valiant effort at the Phog only reinforced that notion.