No. 2 Kansas beats Iowa State 76-72 for 17th straight win
AMES, Iowa (AP) — No. 2 Kansas passed its biggest Big 12 road test of the season, winning in a gym where losing was threatening to become a trend.
Frank Mason III had 16 points, Landen Lucas scored 14 and the Jayhawks held off Iowa State 76-72 on Monday night for their 17th straight win.
Svi Mykhailiuk added 13 for the Jayhawks (17-1, 6-0 Big 12), who snapped a two-game skid in Ames and opened 6-0 in the Big 12 for the 10th time.
“It’s always tough (here),” Lucas said. “We should be proud to come in here and win. Our young guys maybe don’t understand that.”
Though it was never comfortable for Kansas, the Jayhawks led the entire second half. Iowa State star Monte Morris drilled a long 3-pointer and two free throws to make it 75-72 with 14.6 seconds left. But then Devonte Graham’s free throw made it a two-possession game and Morris missed a 3 that would’ve made for an interesting finish.
Morris scored 23 points with seven rebounds and seven assists for the Cyclones (11-6, 3-3), who saw their recent string of success against the Jayhawks come to an end.
Iowa State had won four of its last six against the 12-time defending league champions.
“We’ve just got to figure out a way to become a better defensive team. They shot 14 layups in the first half. Layups. You can’t give Kansas 28 points in layups and expect to beat them,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said.
Deonte Burton had 21 points on 21 shots for the Cyclones, losers of two straight for the first time in six weeks.
Kansas: This was a win Kansas has a right to be proud of. Hilton Coliseum is one of the most intimidating atmospheres in America — especially when the Jayhawks come to town — and over 14,000 fans braved an ice storm to scream at them. Victories like this are the reason Kansas keeps winning the Big 12. “No disrespect, but I think it was the best home court we’ve played in so far,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.
Iowa State: The Cyclones let a huge opportunity slip by. Iowa State is very talented and remains a threat in the postseason because of its strong backcourt. But the Cyclones have lost tight games to Gonzaga, Baylor and Kansas, and their program has long since passed the day when moral victories mattered.
In a slight surprise, voters picked Villanova over Kansas for the top spot on Monday. It’ll be hard for the Jayhawks to pass the Wildcats after Villanova routed Seton Hall by 30 points on Monday. The defending national champions host Providence on Saturday. “It really doesn’t matter. I told our staff that Villanova would jump us in (the) AP (poll). They beat Xavier by 25 last week. That didn’t surprise me at all. We’re in a pretty good spot right now,” Self said.
Burton’s three-point play brought the Cyclones within 67-63. But a quick 6-0 run capped by Mason’s layup put Kansas up 10 with 1:57 left, and those baskets came in handy after Iowa State made its late surge. Given that the Jayhawks’ first two road league wins were at TCU and scuffling Oklahoma, the resolve Kansas showed down the stretch was impressive.
Kansas dominated Iowa State on the boards, 41-24, and scored 52 points in the paint. The Cyclones’ guards did their part, with Naz Mitrou-Long chipping in 18 points, but the inability to hang with teams inside continues to haunt Iowa State against elite competition.
Kansas shot 54.8 percent from the floor, helping mitigate its 18 turnovers. ... Iowa State was 9 of 27 from 3-point range. ... Graham had nine points and eight assists, freeing up Mason to attack the basket. ... Morris also had four steals, but he turned it over three times in the first half after committing just one such miscue in his first five Big 12 games.
Kansas hosts Texas on Saturday. But next week will be brutal, with trips to West Virginia and Kentucky looming.
Iowa State plays at Oklahoma on Saturday.
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