LAWRENCE, Kan. — The emergence of freshman guard Andrew Wiggins is beginning to unfold.
With it, Kansas remains undefeated in Big 12 play.
Wiggins scored a career-best for the second time in as many games, netting 29 points Wednesday as the No. 6 Jayhawks toppled Iowa State 92-81 at Allen Fieldhouse.
“He’s so aggressive right now and you can tell he’s just oozing with confidence,” Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said of Wiggins, who was rated as the nation’s top incoming recruit. “That’s scary with that athleticism and that speed.”
Confidence is a key factor, though Wiggins did not, as Kansas coach Bill Self pointed out, “go hunting shots.”
He had 16 attempts and knocked down 10, including a 4-for-6 showing from 3-point range.
“I don’t care what anybody says, he’s played good all year,” Self said. “He just hasn’t lived up to the hype, which is not fair to him because there’s no way he could have. … He just appears to me to be more comfortable and he’s certainly more aggressive.”
The six straight points Wiggins scored following the final media timeout sealed the win as the Jayhawks improved to 16-4 overall and 7-0 in the Big 12. The victory was their seventh straight, and it was the ninth in a row at home in the series with the Cyclones (15-4, 3-4).
To begin his six-point tear, Wiggins was fouled intentionally by Iowa State forward Dustin Hogue and made both free throws before adding a follow shot on the same possession. The Jayhawks then got a turnover on the other end, leading to a breakaway dunk by Wiggins with 2:49 left for an 81-72 lead.
“That flagrant foul was a pretty big call,” Iowa State forward Georges Niang said. “Not saying it was bad. It was just where they took off.”
Wiggins in particular. He topped his previous career high of 27 points, which was set in Kansas’ previous game at TCU.
“He’s just going out there and playing basketball,” point guard Naadir Tharpe said. “I think at the beginning he was going out there and trying to make everybody else happy. That’s not what he needs to do. He needs to go out there and play for himself and play for his team. When he plays loose, you see what happens.”
Tharpe distributed the ball well, adding 12 points and 12 assists, against just one turnover.
“I knew I had to get dudes involved,” Tharpe said. “I tried to draw defenders and get the ball to the open man.”
The Kansas starters were grateful. Each scored in double figures. Sophomore forward Perry Ellis added 20 points and guard Wayne Selden had 11. Freshman center Joel Embiid, like Tharpe, recorded a double-double with 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
“If they’re hitting shots like they did tonight, they’re going to be a tough, tough team to beat,” Hoiberg said of the Jayhawks, who went 32 of 62 (51.6 percent) and canned a season-high 10 shots from behind the arc.
Despite falling behind by 16 before 10 minutes had elapsed, the Cyclones tied the game on a 3-pointer by guard DeAndre Kane to begin the second half.
The Jayhawks, however, answered with an 11-0 run behind 3s from Wiggins and guard Wayne Selden, and a three-point play by Ellis.
Kane and forward Niang shared team-high honors with 22 points apiece for Iowa State. Forward Melvin Ejim added 18.
Both teams shot better than 50 percent in the first half, which included two huge shifts in momentum.
Kansas raced to a 16-point lead behind a dominant effort on the offensive glass, yet the Jayhawks lost practically the entire margin before reaching halftime ahead 46-43.
Iowa State went on a 20-7 flurry to crawl within 37-34, but it never led in the first half despite pulling within one at 44-43. During its big spree, the Cyclones scored on six straight possessions, hitting four 3-pointers during that run.
Ellis scored 15 first-half points for the Jayhawks, including four of their last five baskets. Wiggins added 12 first-half points.
The Cyclones went 6-for-12 from 3-point range before intermission. Five of their 3-pointers came in the final 8-plus minutes. They were led by Niang, who had 11
- Lonzo Ball Still Unable to Sprint While Rehabbing
- Spurs, forward Marcus Morris agree to contract buyout after 3-team trade
- Boston’s Creative Defense Continues to Solidify Them as the Best Current Team
- Is Tyler Herro playing tonight (Feb. 29) vs. Nuggets?
- Donovan Mitchell Showing Massive Defensive Improvements
Main Page 1 week ago
Former Rockets Guard/Forward Robert Reid Dies At 68 After Battle With Cancer
NBA 1 week ago
Anthony Edwards admits players don’t contest All-Star Game: ‘Nobody wants to come and compete’
Headlines 1 week ago
NBA All-Star Game Sparks Rumors That Kevin Durant and Rapper Yung Miami Are Dating
NBA 7 days ago
Kevin Durant believes high school star Cooper Flagg could dominate NBA ‘for 15 years’