Bragg and Lucas star as Kansas clips Iowa State, 76-72

It’s been three years since Kansas has beat Iowa State in Ames. Tonight, the Jayhawks looked to secure their first win at Hilton Coliseum since 2014, and they did so in a big way, just barely edging out Iowa State, 76-72.

Since losing their season opener to Indiana, the Jayhawks have been on a tear, winning now 17 straight, giving them the honor of being ranked 2nd in the AP Poll for the second week in a row. Dating back to last year, Kansas has gone 34-2 in its last 36 games, with the two losses being sandwiched between two 17-game winning streaks.

KU got off to a sloppy start on Monday night, committing five turnovers in the first 6:00 of the game. The Jayhawks also committed 11 turnovers in the first half, compared to just six for Iowa State. Fortunately for the Jayhawks, Iowa State was unable to capitalize on those, matching the Jayhawks with 15 points off of turnovers, 10 of which came in the first half of the game. As the contest wore on, KU became more diligent in where they put the basketball, but it really had one of the worst games this season as far as turning the ball over was concerned. KU, who is usually very well put together, turned the ball over 18 times tonight.

The big difference maker for KU tonight was not rebounding, nor was it the fact that everyone besides Josh Jackson was in no real foul trouble. It was that Kansas controlled the game from the get-go, and really never let up. They were dominant in almost every aspect of the game, and shared the ball very well. It may have been the best team-game from the Jayhawks all season, as no one player outscored the rest of the team by a whole lot.

Last year, the Jayhawks controlled the first 30 minutes of the contest in Ames before falling apart in crunch time. Today, Iowa State had just two leads: 4-2 and 8-6, both of which came before the first TV timeout. Kansas was in complete control of the contest on Monday night, grabbing a quick 18-10 lead. The final 32 minutes of the night were played between a window of Kansas leading by three and 10 points. So many times already this season, lackluster starts have plagued the Jayhawks and made it difficult for them to pull away from teams. On Monday night, a bad start could have been a fatal mistake, so it was the perfect time to buck that trend.

As he put on another clinic, Frank Mason III led the Jayhawks in scoring tonight with 16 points, followed closely by Landen Lucas with 14. Svi Mykhailiuk added 13 points, including a team-high three three-pointers. For the Cyclones, they had three players who did a majority of the scoring. Monte Morris delivered a strong performance, accounting for 23 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists. Deonte Burton also turned in a gutsy performance, as he scored 21 points for Iowa State.

Flying under the radar, but still having one of the best games in his young career, Carlton Bragg provided a huge boost when KU really needed it. On the offensive side, he put up 10 points, with five of his six rebounds coming on offense in 15 minutes. Last week, he didn’t make a field goal in games where the bench was a non-factor. He was magnificent tonight, and he was praised by Bill Self after the game.

Against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State last week, the Jayhawk bench scored eight points on 1-for-10 shooting in 64 minutes. On Monday night, the unit (just Lagerald Vick and Bragg) scored 18 points on 9-for-15 shooting in 42 minutes.

In front of a sold out crowd in Ames, the Jayhawks and Cyclones definitely didn’t disappoint. It was a fast-paced, down-to-the-wire thriller that KU fans should definitely get used to seeing this season. Although they were a bit careless with the basketball, they did a lot of things the right way tonight, as they took care of Iowa State. Three of their next four games are at West Virginia, at Kentucky, and home against Baylor. If they want to ensure wins, sharing the basketball with their own teammates, not the opposing players, will be key to victories (and eventually winning another Big 12 title).

NOTES:

  • Frank Mason: 16 points (7/12 FG) and six rebounds in 33 minutes. He is a stud. He also tweaked his knee midway through the second half of the game, and is okay, per Self.
  • Devonte’ Graham: nine points (3/8 FG) and a game-high eight assists in 37 minutes. He took great care of the ball in the loudest environment KU has played in this year. He also made a game-icing free throw with 14 seconds left.
  • Landen Lucas: 14 points (7/9 FG) and six rebounds in 28 minutes. KU’s game plan was clear: throw the ball inside to Lucas, who couldn’t be stopped by a much smaller Iowa State team.
  • Carlton Bragg: 10 points (5/9 FG) and six rebounds in 15 minutes. Considering the opponent, it’s probably his best game of the year.
  • Josh Jackson: six points (3/11 FG) – his second-lowest scoring total this year. He did have eight rebounds and five assists in 27 minutes, but four turnovers hurt KU. It happens for freshmen in difficult road environments.
  • Svi Mykhailiuk: 13 points (5/7 FG, 3/5 from three) in 33 minutes. He hit a couple of threes that looked like NBA plays. He’s so important to this team.
  • Lagerald Vick: eight points (4/6 FG), five rebounds, and three assists in 27 minutes. He also played excellent defense and stayed out of foul trouble. It was a very solid all-around game from Vick, who Self praised after the contest.
  • KU outrebounded ISU 41-24.
  • KU scored 52 points in the paint – fifty-two!
  • KU’s FT% was only 40% (2-5) compared to ISU’s 70% (7-10)
  • From the floor: KU 55%, Iowa State 44%. From three: KU 40%, Iowa State 33%.
  • Kansas is 17-1 overall and 6-0 in the Big 12. Up next: a home date with the Texas Longhorns.