Jameel McKay

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No. 1 Kansas beats No. 21 Iowa State for 11th straight win

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Having already wrapped up the Big 12 regular season title, the program’s 12th consecutive, No. 1 Kansas entered Saturday’s game against No. 21 Iowa State looking to complete an undefeated run through the home portion of their schedule. The Cyclones were competitive throughout, but in the end the Jayhawks simply had too many options as they won 85-78 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas outscored Iowa State 17-7 over the final 5:09, limiting the Cyclones to just one made field goal during that stretch. On Senior Day it was senior forward Perry Ellis who led the way offensively, scoring his team-best 22 points on shots from both inside and out while also grabbing seven rebounds. Bill Self’s team doesn’t lack for depth or talent, and both attributes were on display during the game’s decisive run.

Wayne Selden Jr. and Devonté Graham added 16 points apiece, and five different Jayhawks scored during the run that decided the outcome. While there can be a tendency to look for a headliner capable of taking over a game this time of year, there’s also great value in having multiple players capable of stepping forward on any given night. That’s a luxury Kansas has, and it’s one reason why they’re seen as a favorite to cut down the nets in Houston.

Kansas found quality looks offensively and took care of the basketball in the second half, shooting better than 58 percent from the field in the game’s final 20 minutes. That can wear an opponent down, especially one that lacks depth like Iowa State.

The Cyclones received good minutes from their front court, most notably Georges Niang and Jameel McKay as they combined to score 41 points. But point guard Monté Morris shot just 3-for-10 from the field in scoring his 13 points, and Abdel Nader was relatively quiet as well. Given how Kansas executes offensively, everyone has to be clicking on all cylinders if you’re going to leave Allen Fieldhouse with a win. But there are positives to be taken from this defeat if you’re Iowa State, most notably the play of McKay.

The senior forward, who’s an incredibly important figure for Iowa State as they look to make a run in the NCAA tournament, has been a bit of an enigma at times this season. There was the two-game suspension served last month, and there have been times on the floor where he wasn’t providing the energy Iowa State needs from the pivot to make up for their lack of interior depth.

If McKay plays as he can consistently, Iowa State has the tools needed to make some noise. They can win games with McKay being a minor (or non-existent) cog in the attack, but the task becomes a lot more difficult for Iowa State when that’s the case.

Kansas has no such question marks at this time, as they’re playing their best basketball of the season at the right time. Winners of 11 straight, the Jayhawks are fully capable of extending that streak into early April.

Niang, Morris lead No. 14 Iowa State past No. 24 Texas

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After falling at Texas Tech for the second straight season midweek, No. 14 Iowa State needed to bounce back with No. 24 Texas visiting Hilton Coliseum. The return of Jameel McKay, who was suspended for two games, certainly helped the Cyclones and the play of Georges Niang and Monte Morris was key as well. But the biggest difference on this night was the fact that Iowa State was able to limit the effectiveness of Texas point guard Isaiah Taylor.

 

Taylor scored just nine points on 3-for-14 shooting from the field, and with Morris and Niang scoring 24 points apiece the Cyclones won by the final score of 85-75.

Taylor had multiple opportunities to make plays around the basket thanks to his ability to beat defenders off the bounce, but he struggled to finish. Add in a 0-for-4 night from three, and Texas’ most dangerous offensive option was unable to duplicate his performance in the first meeting between the two teams. In Texas’ 94-91 overtime win over the Cyclones January 12, Taylor scored 28 points and dished out six assists with just one turnover, shooting 11-for-17 from the field.

Four Longhorns finished in double figures, with Tevin Mack and Javan Felix scoring 18 apiece, but with Morris decisively winning the point guard matchup Texas was unable to pick up the win on the road.

For Iowa State the aforementioned tandem of Morris and Niang performed as they did in the first meeting, which should come as no surprise. What helped them, especially when it came to Texas attacking the basket, was the presence of McKay. McKay finished the game with eight points, seven rebounds and four blocks in 22 minutes of action, and to have their best interior defender back on the floor certainly helped the Cyclones on this night.

With their lack of depth Iowa State’s margin for error is small, especially when it comes to foul trouble, injuries and disciplinary reasons. Even with Texas’ size advantage Iowa State outscored them in the paint 48-34, and McKay’s defensive ability factored into that. The Cyclones can put points on the board with the best of them, but at some point they’ll need to string together stops as the games get even bigger.

Iowa State managed to do that down the stretch, with Morris and Niang running the show offensively. And that’s a good formula to be able to rely upon as the season approaches its most important month.

No. 13 Iowa State suspends Jameel McKay indefinitely

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Already lacking depth, No. 13 Iowa State will be short a key contributor Saturday when they take on Oklahoma State in Stillwater.

Friday night it was announced that senior forward Jameel McKay has been suspended indefinitely by head coach Steve Prohm and did not make the trip with the team. McKay, who’s been dealing with knee issues recently, is averaging 12.4 points and a team-high 9.0 rebounds per game on the season.

Over the last six games he’s averaging 7.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per contest, shooting 60.6 percent from the field.

McKay has been asked to man the middle for a team lacking in both size and depth, with Georges Niang shifting over to the five when McKay needs a break for either rest or foul trouble reasons. Without McKay even more responsibility falls upon the shoulders of Niang, Abdel Nader and Deonte Burton in the front court.

The Cyclones are looking to end a two-game losing streak, and even with Oklahoma State’s struggles accomplishing that gets tougher with McKay out of the lineup.

News of McKay’s suspension was first reported by the Ames Tribune.

No. 11 Iowa State beats Coppin State 104-84

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AMES, Iowa (AP) Iowa State’s slate of overmatched opponents is complete.

Next up for the Cyclones is a brutal 18-game Big 12 schedule – with a tough trip to No. 20 Texas A&M in the middle of it.

Abdel Nader scored 21 points and 11th-ranked Iowa State beat Coppin State 104-84 on Wednesday night in its final tune-up for conference play.

Deonte Burton added 17 points for the Cyclones (11-1), who open their conference schedule at No. 3 Oklahoma on Saturday.

“Let’s bring in the new year. We’re ready to go. No question,” said Iowa State’s Georges Niang, who had 15 points. “If you want to be the best you’ve got to beat the best, so why not start off at Oklahoma.”

Iowa State went ahead by 21 points midway through the first half and won by at least 20 for the sixth time. Monte Morris had 10 points, 11 assists and no turnovers for his fourth double-double of the year for the Cyclones.

Josh Treadwell had 21 for Coppin State (2-13), which lost its 11th straight.

Iowa State is expected to be among the favorites in a loaded Big 12, along with the Sooners and, of course, second-ranked Kansas.

The Cyclones prepped for their trip to Norman with an up and down effort against a Coppin State team that went 17 of 30 on 3s.

“It felt like they were just turning around and throwing them up in there. But I mean, obviously that’s something we’re going to work on,” Niang said.

But Iowa State, which notched an unimpressive win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff in their last home game, opened the game on a 12-0 run. The Cyclones then scored 10 of 11 points – with their players at times looking surprised at how open they were on offense – to go ahead 30-9.

The Eagles kept things somewhat respectable by burying eight 3s in the first half. But Iowa State pushed a 16-point lead to 62-37 four minutes into the second half, and the Cyclones began resting some of their rotation players with 12 minutes to go.

Iowa State’s lack of depth was evident down the stretch though, as its bench players allowed Coppin State its fair share of open shots.

Jameel McKay also scored 15 points for the Cyclones.

“I thought out guys came out, especially our first group, came out the right way,” Prohm said.

TIP-INS

Iowa State: The Cyclones extended their non-conference winning streak to 34 games. Iowa State last lost such a game in 2011. … With his sixth assist Wednesday, Morris matched former Iowa State standouts Jeff Hornacek and Will Blalock by reaching 400 in just 82 games.

Coppin State: The Eagles won’t play again at home until Jan. 23 against North Carolina A&T. …Terry Harris was called for a technical foul for grabbing Matt Thomas by the jaw underneath the basket early in the second half.

STAT LINES

Iowa State shot 29 free throws to just five for the Eagles. …The Cyclones also dominated the points in the paint 52-20. … Even though Coppin State was arguably the least appealing home game on Iowa State’s schedule, it still drew a sellout crowd of 14,383.

ON THE RISE

Burton, a Marquette transfer playing in just his third game at Iowa State and his first at home, was 5 of 7 from the field and had six rebounds in 21 minutes.

WHAT’S NEXT

Iowa State will face the Sooners in Norman on Saturday.

Coppin State plays at Howard on Jan. 9.

Follow Luke Meredith on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/LukeMeredithAP and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/LukeMeredithAP

Abdel Nader’s jumper gives No. 11 Iowa State much-needed road win at No. 22 Cincinnati

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Abdel Nader hit a three with 11.0 seconds left and Iowa State survived as the Bearcats got three looks at the rim on the final possessions, escaping Cincinnati’s Fifth Third Arena with an 81-79 win.

Georges Niang led the way for No. 11 Iowa State with 24 points and 10 boards, his lone assist coming of the final possession, when he broke down No. 22 Cincinnati’s defense and found Nader open in the corner. Monte’ Morris added 16 points and seven assists for the Cyclones, who got a surprise contribution from Deonte Burton off the bench, who finished with 12 points. The Cyclones also got a nice lift from Matt Thomas. He shot just 4-for-14 from the floor, but he finished with nine boards — eight on the defensive end — and four assists.

Perhaps the most impressive part of this win is that it came on a night where Jameel McKay, Iowa State’s lone rotation big man, finished with just five points and three rebounds, all of the offensive end of the floor. He was more or less a non-factor against a team that has one of the toughest and most athletic front lines in college basketball.

This was certainly the kind of confidence-boosting win that Iowa State needed. This is the kind of team that, on paper, they don’t match up all that well with, and the Cyclones went on the road and survived despite blowing a pair of 13-point leads and trailing on their final possession of the game. The Cyclones, their last two times they’ve played high major competition, needed a choke job from Iowa to win at home and lost to Northern Iowa in a game where they mad Wes Washpun look like Russell Westbrook.

There were quite a few people — myself included — that had their doubts about whether or not this Iowa State team can truly contend for a Big 12 title or a Final Four. Winning at Cincinnati isn’t definitive proof that the Cyclones are elite, but it is a nice little reminder that they have some dudes on that roster that can play.

As far as the Bearcats are concerned, they now have lost three of their four marquee non-conference games, the lone win coming over No. 20 George Washington at the Barclays Center. They lost by ten at No. 6 Xavier — no shame in that — and if Roosevelt Jones had missed a tough floater at the buzzer of their loss to Butler and Farad Cobb hits a tough-but-makeable three at the buzzer tonight, we would be looking at the Bearcats very differently right now.

That’s a long-winded way of saying that I’m still buying Cincinnati as an AAC contender despite their last two home losses.

WEEKLY AWARDS: Javan Felix’s big shot, Wichita State’s bigger week

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Javan Felix, Texas

Before we get into what it means, let’s talk for a minute about what actually happened. Texas upset No. 3 North Carolina, 84-82, in a game where their defense didn’t do all that much to slow down the Tar Heels. They won because they were able to keep UNC’s big men in check — specifically off the offensive glass — and because they shot the lights out, no one more so than Felix. He finished with 25 points on 9-for-14 shooting, hitting 5-for-7 from beyond the arc, but his biggest shot of the day may or may not have come with time left on the clock. A missed Isaiah Taylor jumper happened to bounce out to Felix who buried an 18-footer than came a split-second before the buzzer.

This is a critical win for the Longhorns for a couple reasons. For starters, it’s the kind of non-conference victory that is going to look really good on their résumé come tournament time. I still think North Carolina is the best team in the country, but at the very least, the Tar Heels now have a win over a team that is going to be in the top ten range all year long. That’s the difference between a 10 seed and the NIT.

But this was also the most visible non-conference game that Texas was playing. It came at home, on ESPN, against a blue-blood program on the first Saturday after yet another disappointing football season. It was always a struggle for Rick Barnes to get Texas fans fully committed to supporting the basketball team, and Shaka Smart is likely to have some of those same issues. But for a fan base desperate for a good team to root for, the timing of this win in this fashion could not have been more perfect.

THE ‘ALL THEY WERE GOOD, TOO’ TEAM

  • Kelan Martin, Butler: Martin had 25 points and 11 boards in 20 minutes off the bench in a come-from-behind win over Tennessee on Saturday, which followed up a 20-points, eight-rebound performance — also in just 20 minutes — on Monday against Indiana State. Martin is averaging 23.0 points over his last three games.
  • Isaiah Cousins, Oklahoma: Buddy Hield is the guy that gets all the attention for Oklahoma, but Cousins was the best player on the floor in their blowout win over No. 9 Villanova, finishing with 19 points, 10 assists and six boards. He followed that up with 15 points, five assists and five boards against Oral Roberts.
  • Jameel McKay, Iowa State: Iowa State came back from 20 points down to beat Iowa at home on Thursday night, and McKay was the hero in that game. He finished with 20 points, 12 boards and a pair of blocks, but it was his energy — eight of those rebounds were offensive — that changed the course of the game.
  • Isaac Hamilton, UCLA: Hamilton looks like he is finally living up to his billing as a top 20 recruit in the country. He scored a career-high 21 points to help the Bruins avoid an upset against LBSU and followed that up with 20 points in UCLA’s win at No. 20 Gonzaga. He also added seven assists and seven steals this week.
  • Rodney Bullock, Providence: Bullock came up huge for Providence this week, scoring 15 second half points in the win over Boston College and following that up with 14 points, 13 boards, four steals and three blocks in a win over Bryant. Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil both missed the second half against BC and Dunn didn’t play against Bryant.
  • BENCH: Melo Trimble (Maryland), Josh Scott (Colorado), Allonzo Trier (Arizona), London Perrantes (Virginia)
Associated Press
Associated Press

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Wichita State Shockers

This week was the most important week of the regular season for the Shockers. Having lost four of their first six games, Wichita State was in a position where they not only needed to prove — to themselves, to their fans, to the media — that their early season losses were a direct result of injuries to the likes of Fred VanVleet and Anton Grady, but they needed to start building a résumé that would give them a chance to play in the NCAA tournament this season if they don’t happen to win the Missouri Valley’s at-large bid.

And they did just that.

On Wednesday, the Shockers beat a talented UNLV team and followed that up by blowing out No. 25 Utah. In total, the Shockers gave up 100 points on the week, playing the kind of physical half court defense that we’ve become accustomed to from Gregg Marshall coached teams. VanVleet doesn’t quite look like he’s totally himself yet, but he had bursts in both games where it was quite obvious his hamstring is feeling better than it did prior to the Advocare Invitational in Orlando.

As of this moment, Wichita State is probably back to being one of the top 15-20 teams in the country, particularly if guys like Zach Brown and Markus McDuffie are going to play the way they did on Saturday.

THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • Xavier Musketeers: Did anyone make a bigger statement this weekend than Xavier? The Musketeers totally blew the doors off of arch-rival Cincinnati, a pretty good team in their own right this season. The Muskies look like a legitimate title contender.
  • UCLA Bruins: The Bruins may be the most confounding team in the country. They lost to Monmouth at home, lost to Wake Forest in Maui and got their doors blown off by Kansas. They also beat then-No. 1 Kentucky and, on Saturday, went into Spokane and beat No. 20 Gonzaga at the Kennel. Are you buying them yet?
  • Marquette Golden Eagles: Even if Marquette misses the NCAA tournament this season, their season will be considered somewhat of a success as the Golden Eagles picked off in-state rival Wisconsin in the Kohl Center on Saturday. They seem to have made a renewed commitment to getting the ball into the paint.
  • Boise State Broncos: It’s been tough-sledding for Boise State early on this season, but the Broncos picked up two big wins this week. It started when they avoided getting upset by Loyola Marymount and ended with a win over No. 24 Oregon in Boise, a win that is only going to look better as the season progresses.
  • Chattanooga Moccasins: Not only did the Mocs go into Dayton Arena and knock off the Flyers on Saturday, they did it without their best player, Casey Jones. In his first season as head coach, Matt McCall has now landed wins over Georgia, Illinois and Dayton. Not bad.
  • SMU Mustangs: In their only game this week, the Mustangs pounded Michigan. It really is a shame this team is banned from the tournament, because they are certainly capable of getting to a Final Four this year.

SET YOUR DVR

  • No. 25 Utah vs. No. 8 Duke, Sat. 12:00
  • No. 9 Villanova at No. 10 Virginia, Sat. 12:00 p.m.
  • No. 1 Michigan State at Northeastern, 12:00 p.m.
  • No. 3 North Carolina vs. UCLA, Sat. 1:00 p.m.
  • Indiana vs. Notre Dame, Sat. 2:00 p.m.
  • No. 23 Cincinnati at VCU, Sat. 4:00 p.m.
  • No. 18 Butler vs. No. 11 Purdue, Sat. 5:00 p.m.
  • No. 16 Baylor at Texas A&M, 9:00 p.m.
  • UNLV at No. 13 Arizona, Sat. 9:30 p.m.