LAWRENCE, KAN. — Among the banners that mark Kansas’ 10 consecutive Big 12 regular season titles is another that reads: “Beware of the Phog.” The building in which Iowa State played in Monday — hoping to better position itself in the conference race — was the least of its problems.
Those instead rested with turnovers and Kansas’ Wayne Selden Jr. as No. 11 Iowa State reached the midway point of its conference schedule Monday with an 89-76 loss to No. 8 Kansas.
“I think it was just some of us making mental mistakes,” said Georges Niang, who was a bright spot in the loss with 24 points and five assists. “You can’t really have that. It’s a tough environment and you have to limit those mental mistakes and I don’t think we did that.”
While slow starts have caused trouble on the road for the Cyclones this season, there were no such problems to be had playing in its most hostile environment to date. Iowa State started fast, taking a seven-point lead 11 minutes in.
“They controlled the game the first 11 minutes,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.
From there, Iowa State committed self-inflicted wounds while Kansas took control. The Jayhawks scored seven points off nine Iowa State turnovers in the first half, eventually taking a seven-point lead to the break.
“We got up seven early and were really fighting and battling and doing a good job on the glass,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “Then once we started turning the ball over that gave them rhythm. When they get dunks and get transition points, that gives them confidence. This place explodes when they get dunks in transition.”
The Phog exploded with a Kansas run to begin the second half. The Jayhawks extended their halftime lead to 15 with a 14-6 run out of the break, forcing an Iowa State timeout before the first media break.
The run was fueled by Seldon Jr., who, after going 0-for-3 in the first half, scored eight of Kansas' 14 points during the run. Seldon Jr. eventually finished with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting, hitting five 3s in the second half.
"He hit some tough shots," Hoiberg said. "He hit a couple I didn’t think our urgency was good enough. They did a good job finding him."
When Iowa State beat Kansas at Hilton Coliseum just more than two weeks ago, the Cyclones scored 21 points in transition. Monday, the Jayhawks held the Cyclones to no first-half transition points and ultimately 12, many of which came when Iowa State was in desperation mode late.
"We just were doing uncharacteristic things," guard Naz Long said. "It’s tough, but we came out of the gate right. It’s a couple little things here and there and we’re going to patch it up."
The loss sends Iowa State to 6-3 in the Big 12 midway through the conference schedule, two games behind Kansas in the race to end the Jayhawks' streak of 10 straight titles.
“The season’s not over,” Niang said. “I’ll just leave it at that.”