The Iowa State Cyclones had this date circled on the calendar and eyed this game like a dog eyes a piece of meat that harmlessly drops to the floor. The crowd bellowed out hate at raucous levels, still feeling the agony of three losses a year ago, two coming in overtime. In the end, they'll just have to circle another date on the calendar, as Kansas withstood the momentum and plowed through Iowa State 77-70, Monday night at Hilton Coliseum.
The game was a huge response for a Jayhawk team that had some questions entering conference play. Through three game of their brutal five game stretch to open, they stand 3-0 and sending a message to the league that the road to the league title still goes through Lawrence, Kansas.
The victory for Kansas (12-4, 3-0) didn't come without some negatives that they had to overcome. The Jayhawks overcame 24 turnovers and 26 fouls to defeat an Iowa State (14-2, 2-2) team that lost their second straight game after starting the season 14-0. KU made up for that by outrebounding the Cyclones 53-36.
Guard Naadir Tharpe turned a career performance, scoring 23 points. Freshman Andrew Wiggins quietly scored 18 points and hauled down 19 rebounds and fellow freshman Joel Embiid set the tone defensively, blocking five shots. He added 16 points and nine rebounds to go with that and continue his dramatic rise, as the Cameroon native has garnered national attention of late and has some projecting him as high as the number one overall selection in June's NBA Draft.
The win also moves Kansas that much closer to a 10th consecutive Big 12 regular season championship, as they have won the first three of their brutal five game stretch to open Big 12 play.
They'll next face Oklahoma State, Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse in a showdown between the two teams many have expected to directly contend for the league title.