Quick Hitters: Iowa State

Hilton Magic (namely boo-ing for 40 minutes straight) was no match for a more determined and more talented Kansas team that won their second Big 12 road game and moved to 3-0 and sole possession of first place in league play. With wins over now 2-2 Iowa State and 2-1 Kansas State, KU will be in great position to create even more separation later this week when 2-1 Oklahoma State comes into Allen Fieldhouse. For now, lets take a look back at this win over Iowa State.

1. Embiid may be getting a reputation. Like the Morris twins before him, Joel Embiid seems to be standing out to the officials right now. This makes the second straight game that he has been assessed a flagrant foul. It is also the second disqualification, last week by ejection and Monday night on aggregate. KU needs Embiid in the game. He has to learn that those type of retaliation plays are never going to fly at any level of competition and cut them out completely. What he doesn’t want is for Big 12 referees to get his number and start calling every little bit of contact a foul. That kind of reputation is almost impossible to shake. For a guy who already has trouble staying on the floor due to fouls, something like that developing could be disastrous. He needs a couple of clean games to reverse this trend in my estimation.

2. KU dominated the glass. Some of this was due to coaching. It was clear that Iowa State didn’t want to give up points in transition to KU. Still, KU out-rebounded ISU 38-20 on the defensive glass and barely lost the edge to ISU on the offensive glass with 15 to their 16. KU was more efficient with their second chances, however. They also had a higher percentage of available offensive rebounds grabbing 48 percent of misses while ISU managed to gather only 33% of theirs. Also impressive was Wiggins’ effort on the glass. He pulled in 19 total. The next closest Jayhawk was Embiid with 9. The closest Cyclone was Hogue, also with 9. That was impressive. Like Wayne Simien said last night “19 rebounds is grown-man business.”

3. So many turnovers. This was a game that felt like it should have been about a 15 point margin all the way. KU looked the more dominant team for the vast majority of play. They were more efficient offensively, played better defense and dominated the glass. So how was Iowa State  tied at the half and within striking distance all night? Turnovers and fouls.  KU was -16 in the TO category with 24 giveaways. They also fouled 26 times giving ISU 10 more points at the line. The scary thing about this games is that ISU shot only 16% from three. If they shoot even a respectable percentage, KU loses this game.

What to Watch for Recap:

1. Toughness. I think the defensive numbers speak volumes to this. There weren’t a ton of 50-50 balls that I can remember either team getting, but in terms of pure effort to go and gather rebounds, KU was clearly more energized.

2. Turnover Percentage. As usual, Iowa State was very careful with the ball. They gave it away only eight times which is right in line with their season average. KU, on the other hand, was very loose with the rock all night. Like I mentioned before, if ISU shoots a little better, KU would have lost this game, and turnovers would have been the main reason why.

3. Does KU’s trial by fire pay off? I think it is safe to say it has. Each time ISU made a push KU responded. When ISU tied it with a buzzer beating three at halftime, KU responded by exploding for seven unanswered points on the other side of the break. When Kane started to take over for the Cyclones in the second half, Embiid took the game back over himself. Aside from turnovers, KU looked like the more poised, experienced and dominant team all night and this was on the No. 8 team in the country’s court. That is easy to forget. Iowa State is good, but KU is better and the environment didn’t phase them. Do you think that they would have looked so collected if they had done nothing but played cupcakes all season?

Beware of the Blog’s Player of the Game is Naadir Tharpe. A heavy twitter favorite, Tharpe gets my player of the game award for the first time this season. Wiggins’ 19 rebounds were impressive. Embiid dominated a large portion of the second half. But it was Tharpe who made the Jayhawks go this night, so he captured the award. He had 23 points on 78 percent from the field and added four assists. He did have four turnovers, but Wiggins and Embiid both gave it away more than that with a combined 13 between them.

Current Standings:

  • 1. Andrew Wiggins (5)
  • 2. Perry Ellis (3)
  • T-3. Joel Embiid (2)
  • T-3. Frank Mason (2)
  • T-3. Wayne Selden (2)
  • T-4. Tarik Black (1)
  • T-4. Naadir Tharpe (1)

You let the whole team down Tarik Black. Mostly because this looked like early season Tarik and we don’t want that guy back. Tarik finished with more fouls (5) than points (2) or rebounds (1).