AMES, Iowa — The end result was never much in doubt, but how Iowa State eventually got there Tuesday night proved that putting any contest on cruise control might not be in this team’s best interest.
Consider that a lesson-learned as No. 14 Iowa State still managed a lopsided 73-56 win against Kansas City, avoiding a trap ahead of traveling to play in-state rival Iowa at week’s end. The second-half sluggishness was a blip on the radar.
“I think we just thought we could put it on cruise control and eventually get it up to 30 or something,” Georges Niang said. “You can’t do that. I feel like we’ve yet to play a 40-minute game and we can’t let that happen because we’re going to need our best game to play against Iowa.”
So Iowa State will undoubtedly focus on how things started Tuesday at Hilton Coliseum rather than the fashion in which they ended.
For another night, that points things toward Bryce Dejean-Jones. The Kangaroos crashed on Niang, holding Iowa State’s leader to nine points. In return, Niang dished out seven assists.
“Bryce was the recipient of a lot of that,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “I thought he got some good run-outs and he made some nice cuts behind the back of the zone where he got a few dunks. He just scored it from all over and he’s shooting the ball with a lot of confidence right now and that always helps.”
Dejean-Jones scored 20 points on an efficient 9-of-12 from the field. He has been nothing but a beacon of consistency in the Cyclones’ last two wins, scoring 49 points on 17-of-20 shooting from the field.
“I just came out aggressive and looking to attack,” Dejean-Jones said. “I was just looking for opportunities and trying to move the ball around and opportunities presented themselves and I just took advantage of it.”
Iowa State jumped to an early double-figure lead just more than five minutes into the game, and the outcome never, in reality, was in danger of turning into anything other than an Iowa State victory.
Yet the Kangaroos ended the first half on a 7-0 run to cut into what had been built up to a game-high 21-point lead. Periods of turnover-prone basketball against the Kansas City press — Iowa State had 14 turnovers — allowed the Kangaroos to stick around before the Cyclones closed them off.
“We had a stretch there where it just wasn’t us,” Hoiberg said. “It looked like when my twins used to play soccer when everybody kind of ran toward the ball. Once we got back to running and getting spacing, we got anything we wanted on the back of that press.”
The win allows Iowa State to turn its focus to Iowa, hoping for a full 40 minutes.
“A lot of us have been waiting a long time for Friday,” Niang said. “To get back there, it’s just going to be a thrill.”