The Kansas Jayhawks have recorded another important win in their quest for an 11th straight Big 12 Championship, dispatching Iowa State 89-76 to avenge an unexpected road defeat earlier in the season and return Kansas squarely to the top of the Big 12 standings.
The team was given a further reminder of the support they receive from both KU students and the Lawrence community, as the historic Allen Fieldhouse sold out for an incredible 223rd game in a row.
Iowa State, currently 3rd of the Big 12 with a 16-5 record, had managed to eke out an 86-81 victory over the Jayhawks in their last encounter, January 17th, a fact which star player Wayne Selden Jr. had admitted “haunted him” for days afterwards. For the first half of this encounter it appeared that history might repeat itself as Selden appeared to have left his shooting ability at home, missing all 3 of his shots and scoring just 1 point during the first half.
Iowa State, apparently having decided Selden was not their greatest threat, left him virtually unmarked on the right after the break and paid dearly for their oversight – Selden went on to convert 4 of his first 5 second half 3 pointers to secure an important turnaround. It is this quality in particular, to be able to shrug off a bad start and get back to business, which marks out Selden as a future star. Special mention should also go out Iowa State’s Georges Niang, who secured 24 points but was unable to rally his team to hold off the Jayhawks counter attack.
Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg was quick to praise Selden’s ability in the post match interview, but as he pointed out, “what has Bill lost in this building, nine times?” Simply put the Allen Fieldhouse is a fortress for the Jayhawks, who have not lost a conference game there all season.
The Jayhawks latest success has led to further recognition of Bill Self’s incredible record at the helm. Myron Medcalf, writing for ESPN, suggests that his almost unprecedented domination of the conference has bred complacency and that winning has become expected. It is incredible to think that many current Kansas players were in junior school when Self’s current streak began, and will likely be well established pros before it ends!
Victory leaves Kansas with a 19-3 record this season and vital breathing space over 2nd placed West Virginia (18-5). Virginia had the opportunity to close the gap when hosting 6th placed Baylor, but a crushing 87-69 defeat leaves the Jayhawks in complete control. With over ⅓ of the season still to play things are far from settled, but it would be a brave man to bet against Bill Self pulling it out of the bag yet again!