AMES, Iowa — The Big 12 champion will not be determined for several weeks. Still, every league team is always chasing Kansas.
The Jayhawks have captured 10 consecutive conference titles, but Iowa State took a preliminary step Saturday toward ending that streak.
All five of the Iowa State starters scored in double figures as the No. 11 Cyclones (13-3, 3-1 Big 12) prevailed 86-81 in Hilton Coliseum and handed the No. 9 Jayhawks (14-3, 3-1) their first Big 12 defeat.
“It’s a fun game to be a part of,” Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. “To be able to play against the best, they’ve won 10 in a row and it’s unbelievable what they’ve accomplished with (coach) Bill Self and those teams. So to come in here and get this, it means the world to our fans. I’m happy for them.”
Coupled with a semifinal win over Kansas in the semifinals of last year’s Big 12 Tournament, the Cyclones claimed back-to-back victories over the Jayhawks for the first time since a five-game stretch of wins in the series from 1999-01.
Kansas and Iowa State came in as the top-rated teams in the Big 12. Seven of the 10 conference teams were ranked this past week, though an unranked squad, Kansas State, moved into first place with a 4-1 league mark after defeating Baylor on Saturday.
The Cyclones’ win was achieved with aggressive play as Iowa State often beat Kansas down court for transition baskets. Jameel McKay, a 6-foot-9 junior transfer from Marquette, led those breakouts and contributed 11 points off the bench.
Among the Iowa State starters, Monte’ Morris was instrumental triggering the attack. The sophomore point guard recorded 11 points and 10 assists, with just two turnovers.
“We had 20 assists and that’s a great sign,” Hoiberg said. “Monte’ Morris is so good running the show out there. You feel so good when he has the ball in his hands, because you know he’s going to make a lot of plays. We had some uncharacteristic turnovers at the end, but we were lucky to have a little cushion to be able to hold on.”
Indeed, Kansas capitalized on those errors, as well as poor free throw shooting (15 of 26) by Iowa State. The Jayhawks crawled within three, 82-79, with 29.2 seconds left on a drive by sophomore point guard Frank Mason, who netted a game-high 21 points despite going to the locker room at one point to receive treatment for leg cramps.
Iowa State, however, did enough to hold off the rally after leading 72-58 after a free throw by McKay. Kansas then countered with a 12-2 spurt, which Mason keyed with five points.
The Cyclones shot 50.8 percent from the field as junior forward Georges Niang added 15 points. Senior forward Dustin Hogue had 14 and senior guard Bryce Dejean-Jones had 12.
“We were able to just push the pace. That’s who we are,” Long said. “That’s Hoi-ball, and it just worked out for the best.”
Troubled by an inability to pound the ball inside, the Jayhawks did not shoot a free throw until the 10:35 mark of the second half and went 8 of 10 from the line. When it had opportunities, Kansas failed to convert on some trips, and was outscored 21-10 on fast-break points.
“Some possessions are more important than others,” said Self, “and it seemed like when we had a chance to inch back, transition killed us.”
Considering Iowa State won for the 47th time in its last 49 games, the sellout crowd also was a factor.
“I don’t think we played well at all,” Self said. “I think the environment got us sped up.”
Junior forward Perry Ellis added 19 points and 11 rebounds for Kansas, even though he fouled out after playing sparingly in the first half. Sophomore guard Wayne Selden had 12 points, and a pair of freshman guards, Kelly Oubre and Devonte’ Graham added 10 apiece.
“We just kept fighting, but it wasn’t enough,” Oubre said. “We tried everything. We weren’t as patient executing our plays.”
Iowa State used a string of eight unanswered points midway through the first half to overturn an 18-14 deficit. The Cyclones then led the remainder of the half, taking a 36-33 lead into the break.
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