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The Day After: Iowa State

Kansas point guard Naadir Tharpe huddles his teammates in the first half against Iowa State on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas point guard Naadir Tharpe huddles his teammates in the first half against Iowa State on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

As it turns out, road losses in tough environments like Colorado and Florida may have paid off for the Kansas University men's basketball team, which went into arguably the toughest place to play on its entire schedule Monday night — Hilton Coliseum — and knocked off Iowa State, 77-70.

KU took charge with great starts to each half and got superb play from Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Naadir Tharpe, each one taking a different moment to shine.

It's still early, there's no doubt about that. But KU has taken as much control of the Big 12 Conference race as a team can take in three games, based largely on the strength of its two road victories.

Success in the Jayhawks' next two games — 3 p.m. Saturday vs. Oklahoma State and 8 p.m. Monday vs. Baylor — could make it an all-out stranglehold.

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Quick takeaway:

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It baffles me that Iowa State, which lost to KU three times last season and had every reason in the world to take the floor with more hunger, anger and intensity than the visiting Jayhawks on Monday night, actually got out-hungered by Kansas. Credit KU coach Bill Self and veteran point guard Naadir Tharpe for explaining to the young guys on this roster just how hostile Hilton would be and for preparing them to feel like the underdog with everything to prove. It worked brilliantly and KU got one of its best games of the season in terms of pure effort.

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Three reasons to smile:

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1 – Naadir Tharpe, the guy some KU fans said they wanted to see thrown off the team for missing shots earlier this season, showed that none of the negativity around his play has had a negative impact on his ability to develop his game and lead this team. Games like Monday can only make Tharpe's confidence soar and a more confident Tharpe is a more comfortable Tharpe, which is a great thing for Kansas.

Kansas center Joel Embiid delivers a dunk against Iowa State during the first half on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas center Joel Embiid delivers a dunk against Iowa State during the first half on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

2 – The Jayhawks were sensational out of timeouts Monday night, whenever Iowa State showed signs of making a run. I can recall at least three or four times when Iowa State closed the gap to six or so points and appeared to be poised for a big run, only to watch Kansas calmly call timeout and respond by getting an easy bucket right at the rim, most often from Embiid. That's clearly solid coaching but it also showed incredible poise by Self's players.

3 – In back-to-back games to open Big 12 play, freshman guard Wayne Selden finished among the Jayhawks' leading scorer and looked great doing it. Monday, Selden had an off night offensively — finishing with just seven points on 2-of-7 shooting — but more than made up for it by leading the team with six assists in 33 minutes.

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Three reasons to sigh:

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1 – Perry Ellis definitely did not have one of his best nights. Forget the 4-of-13 shooting or the 0-of-3 mark from the free throw line, the thing that surprised me the most about Ellis' sluggish night was how he let a bad play on one end lead to another on the other end. I can remember one time specifically where Ellis missed an easy shot in close and then went down and committed a silly foul. As he went to the bench, Self uttered something to the effect of “It's OK to miss the shot but don't make it worse on the other end.” We've become so used to Ellis being so steady that we sometimes forget that he's in his second season of college ball and still developing in his own right.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis battles for the ball with Iowa State guard Monte Morris during the first half on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. At left is ISU forward Georges Niang.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis battles for the ball with Iowa State guard Monte Morris during the first half on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. At left is ISU forward Georges Niang. by Nick Krug

2 – If you would've said before the game that KU would turn it over 24 times and Iowa State just 8, nobody would've guessed that KU would have come out on top. Iowa State swiped a dozen steals but the rest of the turnovers were the result of sloppy ball-handling. The Jayhawks got away with it because they dominated on the glass — which only came because Iowa State was so cold from the floor — but they can't make a habit of giving it up that many times, especially on the road.

3 – For the second game in a row, Joel Embiid got busted for retaliating after bodies got tangled up and was hit with a technical foul for a little extra physical contact. Against K-State, the incident cost Embiid the rest of the game and against the Cyclones it forced him to the bench for a five-minute stretch in which ISU turned a 15-4 KU lead into a 21-19 KU advantage. Embiid's an emotional guy out there and that's good when it leads to him aggressively taking the ball to the basket on offense or feeling like nobody in the gym can stop him. But these extra-curricular fouls can't become a regular part of his ever-advancing game.

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One thought for the road:

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The Jayhawks' impressive victory over an angry Iowa State team on Monday: • Kept Kansas the only undefeated team in conference play, making KU 3-0 for the eighth-straight time and the 10th time in the 11-year Bill Self era.
• Extended Kansas' win streak over Iowa State to four-straight.
• Increased the Jayhawks’ series lead to 174-59 all-time against the Cyclones, including a 30-8 advantage in the Big 12 era and 24-19 in Hilton Coliseum.
• Marked KU’s 50th victory on ESPN’s Big Monday. The Jayhawks are 50-16 in Big Monday games since the start of the Big 12 era.
• Moved Kansas head coach Bill Self to 20-3 all-time against Iowa State, 312-63 while at Kansas and 519-168 overall.
• Pushed KU's all-time record to 2,113-816.

Next up: The Jayhawks continue their crazy stretch against ranked teams when they return to Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday for a 3 p.m. game against No. 9 Oklahoma State.

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Comments

Mike Riches 3 months ago

Hilton may be a tough place to play, but evidently it's not a tough place for the Jayhawks to win. Since Bill Self came to Lawrence, KU has only lost two games at Hilton, and only one in the past ten years. In the Bill Self era, they have lost as many games at Oklahoma and Kansas State, and have lost more games at Oklahoma State, Texas, Missouri, and Texas Tech.

Hilton magic??

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Rick Glover 3 months ago

Matt, Do you know which teams have won the most Big Monday Night games? Or have the best record?

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Jim Stauffer 3 months ago

In reference to the turnovers, I have not looked at the tape to evaluate each one, but John Wooden often said he did not mind TO's if the players committed them while trying to make a play. He deemed that better than playing so close to the vest in order to avoid them.

His mantra was always that shooting % was the most important stat of all. We have seen that with these young guys. When they hit shots no one can beat them.

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Kent Richardson 3 months ago

Mr. Matt,

Thanks for mentioning Selden's assist total. Watching the game live I remember how sweet and court aware some of those passes were.

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Steve Zimmerman 3 months ago

I completely agree with Perry is still developing his game. But I watched him play last year vs ISU, boooy.. so much different. He was much much better. I know he is good, but sometimes his moves do not reflect him being a 2nd yr high-recruited college player. He doesn't block out that well, we end up giving up 2nd chance points (yea, being bumped easily, too). Well, he's not the only one - I think our bigs don't block out that well - except Lucas. If Ellis would spend a little effort, just a little effort - that is to jump a bit higher and dunk with authority on every putbacks or even on the drive; maaan, he'll get respects from the opponents.

Ellis is a great jumper, but it's not too much to expect him playing at similar level to Syracuse's Jerami Grant. They both have the same height, both are sophomores, but Grant has excelled in finishing strong. It's time for Ellis to get to the next level - he IS READY for breaking bad, breaking so bad! Somebody better gives him the 6th season replays!

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Dirk Medema 3 months ago

Perry is making a habit of getting out toughed. He's got to man up, or the scouting report is just going to say Bump Ellis.

Speaking of bumping - Tarik, 'Mari or someone needs to show Jo how to hip check and use his lower body to beat up the opposition. Or just ask Kane how he feels about Wiggs' knee. So much more effective.

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Robert Brock 3 months ago

24 turnovers. Playground.

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Tony Bandle 3 months ago

With the departure of Jesse, Matt, it's great to see you on the basketball doings as well as staying on the football.

Did The LJW double your salary now that you are doing double duty? No need to answer...I pretty much know what the response would be. :)

Watched the second half replay from 12:00 to 1:00 am this morning. The most impressive thing that I saw beyond the game highlights themselves, was the sheer athleticism displayed by the Hawks.

These young Jayhawks are maturing into MEN right before our very eyes!!! No team in the country has the upside that our team has.

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Kent Fisher 3 months ago

Matt,

Nice piece as usual!
Didn't Big Monday exist prior to the formation of the Big 12? If so, this stat would be incorrect: Marked KU’s 50th victory on ESPN’s Big Monday. The Jayhawks are 50-16 in Big Monday games since the start of the Big 12 era.

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