AMES, Iowa (AP) — Kansas responded to arguably its worst loss of the year with a much-needed win in a hostile environment — one that kept the Jayhawks within reach of Big 12-leading Texas Tech.
Performances like the one they put forth on Tuesday night are a big reason why the Jayhawks win the Big 12 every year.
Udoka Azubuike scored 19 points, Malik Newman had 17 and 13th-ranked Kansas bounced back from a brutal loss at Baylor by beating Iowa State 83-77.
Lagerald Vick scored 16 points for the Jayhawks (20-6, 9-4 Big 12), who shot 48.4 percent from the floor and committed just seven turnovers.
Azubuike led the way, hitting 9 of 10 shots and adding three blocks.
“Whenever we need a big basket, we know we can go into the big fella,” Newman said.
Kansas took a five-point lead into the break after Nick Weiler-Babb’s long 3 to end the half was waved off, and it quickly jumped ahead by 11 early in the second half.
The Cyclones chipped away at that deficit at times, even getting as close as three, but the Jayhawks pushed their lead to 76-63 with 4:46 left on back-to-back alley-oop dunks by Azubuike.
That capped a run of six straight makes for the Jayhawks — who also held Iowa State without a field goal for over four minutes down the stretch.
“We took too many bad shots in the first half,” Kansas Bill Self said. “You’re going to shoot a good percentage if you throw it inside a lot.”
Freshman Cameron Lard scored 19 points with 11 rebounds for Iowa State (13-12, 4-9). But freshman Lindell Wigginton, who burned the Jayhawks for 27 points in their first meeting, was held to 12 points on 3 of 12 shooting. He also had five turnovers.
Weiler-Babb had 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists after missing four games with knee tendinitis.
“We knew they’d come in here focused. They’re a resilient group,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said of Kansas. “We weren’t good enough on the defensive end.”
THE BIG PICTURE
Kansas: This was a game KU couldn’t afford to lose if it hoped to keep its quest for a 14th straight conference title alive. The Jayhawks’ next three games: at home to West Virginia and Oklahoma and on the road at Tech, will likely determine their fate. Still, seeing the Jayhawks respond in a crucial spot as the season draws to a close is something their Big 12 rivals have seen over and over again.
Iowa State: The Cyclones encountered a Kansas team with something to prove after it got waxed by Baylor 80-64 over the weekend. That’s a tough combination to overcome in a rebuilding year — though Lard’s monster game, on the heels of being named Big 12 newcomer of the week on Monday — was highly encouraging.
Devonte’ Graham finished with 13 points for Kansas, but he was just 3 of 16 from the field. The rest of the Jayhawks combined to shoot 27 of 46. …Iowa State’s Donovan Jackson was just 1 of 9 from the field. …Svi Mykhailiuk had 10 points for the Jayhawks. …The Cyclones shot just 3 of 16 on 3s, but Zoran Talley had his best game of the year. He scored 15 points on 7 of 11 shooting
HE SAID IT
“For (Graham) to go 3 for 16, and we were able to put him on our back for a change…and come out with the (win), it’s big — and it just speaks to how good our team can actually be when everything is clicking,” Newman said.