"We were into the game early and made baskets on the offensive end," said Jayhawk head coach Roy Williams, who saw his team advance to face Missouri in Saturday's semifinals. "We had trouble stopping them today as much as I wanted to. They missed some shots, and yet at times defensively we were really good.
"We got good production out of all five of our starters. All three of those guys, when the shots are going in for them, you have to guard all five of our guys. The times that we've struggled this year is when they haven't made as many shots and then they could gang up on Nick and Kirk."
On the other hand, KU ganged up on the Cyclones' perimeter threats and put a stranglehold on Jake Sullivan and Tim Barnes. One day after running wild against Texas A&M, the duo was held to 19 combined points and four assists. They shot a combined 6-of-23 from the field.
Hinrich blanketed Sullivan throughout the contest and prevented him from getting many offensive touches, while Miles kept Barnes' penetration in check.
"When you talk about Miles and Hinrich, you're talking about Quannas White and Hollis Price," said head coach Larry Eustachy, who saw his Cyclones fall to 16-13 overall. "Those pairs are as good as any in the country, defensively. Everybody wants to talk about offense, but Kirk Hinrich is a fantastic defender and Miles is right there with him. Roy does a great job of getting them to put pressure on you."
While the performance from ISU's perspective clearly wasn't what it was one day ago a lot of that had to do with the opponent. The Big 12's regular season champion, the Jayhawks are fighting for a top seed in the NCAA Tournament. They proved Friday that they should be considered one of the favorites to return to the Final Four.
"I just thought we met a team that has a chance to win a national championship," Eustachy said. "I was proud of our guys. For the most part, they tried real hard. They just overpowered us throughout the game.
"We're really into executing and playing the game a certain way. We're into what we call breakdowns. If you miss a block out it would be a breakdown. We had a lot of breakdowns today because of who we were playing. They're a potential national championship team. The poise that those two seniors show is impressive. It was who we were playing that had a lot to do with it."
Although he took just eight shots from the field, making five of them, Collison still set the pace for his teammates to follow. The Iowa Falls native scored 14 points to go with eight rebounds, while blocking four shots on the defensive end. His dunk just over three minutes into the game gave KU an early 9-4 edge. He later added a pair of free throws with 2:40 remaining in the half to give the Jayhawks what ended up being their biggest lead of the half.
Graves' offensive presence meant ISU wasn't able to give Collison the attention inside he deserved. The JUCO transfer put together his finest performance yet at KU by hitting 7-of-9 shots from the field and snagging five offensive rebounds on his way to 12 overall.
"I knew he was a good player and was an All-American in junior college," said Vroman, who added a double-double of his own with 24 points and 12 rebounds. "We didn't do a very good job of keeping him off the glass. It's more disappointing than surprising.
"We didn't limit their catches very well, which is one of our goals. I didn't do a great job of that myself. But it's also very hard to defend from the backside or double down when they've got shooters out there like Hinrich."
After trailing by 15 points at the half, ISU proved it still had a little fight left in it. Jared Homan's back-to-back layups capped a 7-2 spurt in which the Cyclones crawled to within a 55-45 margin with 15:37 remaining.
But KU answered with an 11-2 run of its own to pull away for good. Five different players scored in the decisive flurry, which Michael Lee capped with a 3-pointer at the 10:44 mark.
"I was proud of our team," Eustachy said. "I didn't think we started very well, but tied them in the second half with scoring. That wasn't what we were trying to do, and wanted to keep the score in the 60s and control the tempo. It just got away from us. At 89 points we had no chance."
Falling to 16-13 overall, the Cyclones return home to Ames likely to host a first round NIT game next week. Tournament pairings will be announced late Sunday night, a few hours after the NCAA Selection Show.
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