5 stats that popped for Kansas in a must-have road win at ISU
AMES, IOWA — No. 13 Kansas accomplished Tuesday night what West Virginia, Oklahoma and even Texas Tech could not this season, beating Iowa State in Hilton Coliseum.
Udoka Azubuike was too massive for the Cyclones to handle in the paint and Malik Newman and Lagerald Vick proved they could play with energy in their return to the starting lineup.
Coming off a loss at Baylor and trailing the Red Raiders (22-4 overall, 10-3) in the Big 12 standings, the Jayhawks (20-6, 9-4) had to find a way to win. Here are five statistics that helped KU get out of Ames with a victory.
Graham the floor general
Senior point guard Devonte’ Graham had one of his more difficult shooting nights at ISU, going 3 of 16 overall and making just 1 of 7 from 3-point range.
But, just as he did in the eight previous games, Graham played all 40 minutes. And even though the team leader from Raleigh, N.C., almost never goes a possession without handling the ball Graham didn’t commit a single turnover against Iowa State.
Responsible for 5 of KU’s 14 assists in the crucial road win, Graham is far too valuable for coach Bill Self to be interested in giving him a rest. Thanks to some offensive support from Azubuike, Newman and Vick, Graham was able to run the show, defend (his primary assignment, Donovan Jackson, made only 1 of 9 attempts) and not worry about his own shots misfiring.
Points off turnovers
Iowa State didn’t exactly get undignified in terms of taking care of the basketball, committing 12 turnovers in the loss, and Kansas didn’t really make a living off intercepting passes or swiping away dribbles, with 5 steals.
But, boy, did the Jayhawks hit the Cyclones back when the home team turned it over.
KU scored 21 points off ISU’s 12 miscues, and the Cyclones only mustered 4 points off turnovers with the Jayhawks giving it away just seven times.
None of those outcomes seemed likely when Kansas had 4 turnovers in the first seven-plus minutes. But the Jayhawks cleaned things up in a timely fashion.
Layups and dunks
Self and the Jayhawks knew ISU’s defense was suspect, so they made a point to attack it and get the ball inside, especially in the second half.
KU shot 61.5% from the field after intermission, when it scored 24 points in the paint on the strength of 6 layups and 3 dunks (all from Azubuike).
KU reached 40 points in the paint for just the second time since the start of Big 12 play and edged ISU, 42-40, in the category.
With 51% of their point production coming in the paint, the Jayhawks kept their offense rolling by seeking out high-percentage shots.
Limiting Wigginton’s impact
Sensational Cyclones freshman Lindell Wigginton torched KU for 27 points in his Allen Fieldhouse debut a little over a month ago. But the 6-foot-2 guard from Canada couldn’t replicate that production in the rematch.
Wigginton, guarded much of the night by Newman, only managed to make 3 of 12 shots and, like Graham, went 1 of 7 on 3-pointers, scoring 12 points in 35 minutes.
He didn’t often resemble the player that made 10 of 20 at KU.
Is non-conference Vick back?
Reinserted into the starting lineup because Self reached a point where he just wanted to have his five best players on the floor as much as possible, Vick put up 16 points and shot above 50% from the floor for just the third time in the past 13 games.
Getting three quality looks at 3-pointers to fall in the opening six minutes of the second half definitely helped Vick’s cause. He hadn’t made more than two in a game from beyond the arc since the Big 12 opener at Texas, when he hit a career-best five.
Since that 21-point night in Austin, Texas, Vick’s offense mostly went missing. With eight single-digit scoring totals in KU’s previous 11 league games, the Jayhawks often seemed incomplete.
The 16-point night might be a step in the right direction for Vick, who averaged 17.1 before conference play began.