Ames, Iowa Known largely as a team that likes to get out and go and fill up the stat sheet while lighting up the scoreboard, No. 14 Iowa State knocked off No. 4 Kansas University, 85-72, on Monday night at wild and rocking Hilton Coliseum on the strength of its defense.
After giving up 43 points on 58-percent shooting to Kansas during Monday's first half, the Cyclones slammed the door to the tune of 29 points on 40-percent shooting during a second half in which they outscored the Jayhawks by 20.
“Our second-half defense was terrific,” said ISU coach Steve Prohm, who now holds the rare distinction of being unbeaten in head-to-head match-ups with Bill Self. “I'm really proud of our guys. We really played a complete half the last 15 minutes.”
Asked what changed in the second half that allowed Iowa State to seize control and ultimately run away with the game, Prohm stayed away from heavy X's and O's talk.
Images from the Jayhawks' game against the Cyclones on Monday at Hilton Coliseum.
“We challenged 'em and they challenged one another, bottom line,” Prohm said.
Of course, limiting Kansas, which got a game-high 23 points from Perry Ellis, was only part of the equation. The Cyclones still had to figure out how to overcome their own offensive struggles in time to surge past a Kansas team playing with a ton of confidence. Figure it out they did. Big time. Iowa State (16-4 overall, 5-3 Big 12) shot 64 percent in the second half and, at times, suffocated Kansas (16-4, 5-3) to the point where the Jayhawks could barely get the ball past mid-court.
“When we turned our defense into offense, that really changed the game,” Prohm said.
Iowa State point guard Monté Morris played a huge part in that, and there were more than a few players and coaches who called Morris the best player in the game when this one was finished.
“Plain and simple, that guy over there,” said ISU forward Georges Niang, when asked how the Cyclones reversed their fortune in the second half. “We go how he goes. That guy has carried us all season. He's done a great job of leading this team.”
Added Prohm of Morris, who finished with 21 points, nine assists and four rebounds while playing all 40 minutes: “It's a tough job being a point guard. I'm gonna be on him a lot. He's playing really well right now. I've got a lot of confidence in him and I like the ball in his hands.”
Lending support to Prohm's claim that Iowa State's defense turning into easy offense changed the game, Morris said finding a way to lock down KU's perimeter players was a major focal point at halftime.
“I think we guarded better (in the second half), especially myself,” he said. “I tried to do what I could tonight as far as wearing (KU's guards) down.”
In seven career games against Kansas, Morris now has tallied 37 assists and just seven turnovers. His 9-0 ratio on Monday night not only helped Iowa State win the game, but also showed just how dangerous this Cyclones team can be now that it's back in the Big 12 title hunt.
KU players Frank Mason and Perry Ellis join KU coach Bill Self in trying to explain what went wrong in KU's 85-72 road loss at Iowa State on Monday night.
“We've got experienced guys,” Prohm said. “It's always a big game when it's the next game, but, obviously, Kansas brings a little extra to it. But these guys have won championships and knew they just had to keep fighting, keep fighting.... We were there, we were close, we were close and then when we finally hit 'em, it's hard to respond on the road.”
— See what people were saying about the KU-ISU game at Hilton Coliseum during KUsports.com’s live coverage.