Kansas City, MO - In the grand scheme of things it really doesn’t matter as much. Both teams are going to the NCAA Tournament as high seeds and in Kansas’ case, they’re still the outright regular season champion of the Big 12 for an 11th consecutive year. But, that doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt.
Iowa State rallied from a double digit deficit for a third straight game, this time over coming a 17 point hole to take down Kansas in the Big 12 Championship for the second straight year. This year, they did in the championship game by a score of 70-66 Saturday night at the Sprint Center. It was the Cyclones’ second win in three games against the Jayhawks this season and it was the most painful for Kansas, who saw their 40-23 lead early in the second half evaporate and disappear as easily as they had amassed it.
“We talked about not thinking hold them off, then you're on the defense if you're thinking that way,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “So, we talked about extending the lead at halftime, but when things fell apart, you know they scored an absurd number of points in the paint the second half and none of them were off post up touches, none of it. So, it was off driving the ball or second shots and a lot of it was our turnovers had led to run outs. Our transition defense was good, just our turnovers that led to run outs.”
“Our offense cost us the second half,” Self continued “Our offense contributed to our poor defense. But the bottom line is they played take em, and we had no answer. We went zone late and the zone actually got it back tied. We were down 7 when we went zone, I think, and we got it back tied. But, the bottom line is we didn't defend and didn't rebound. We didn't do things the second half that we were doing the first half that allowed to us get a lead.”
Kansas (26-8) looked like they were going to run away with the game early, as they made play after play and were able to convert on offense, while using their defense to frustrate Iowa State (25-8) into a cold shooting half.
The Cyclones only converted on 35 percent of their shots and overall looked emotionally drained from having two games that went down to the last shot in as many nights. Kansas meanwhile, had won by margin that were a little bit more confortable and through one half, looked to send a clear message as to who own the conference.
Once the second half began, the Cyclones turn the tables and did so fast, attacking from the inside rather than the outside. In fact, Iowa State never did get on track from long distance, only making a three pointer in each half to finish with two. They did shoot 52 percent, while Kansas, on the other hand became ice cold, shooting just 26 percent on five of 19 shooting.
Kansas would even switch to a zone to get the game tied up after falling behind by as many as seven points with five minutes to play. However, it wasn’t to be as Iowa State made the plays down the stretch and behind a partisan Cyclones crowd, finished off the Jayhawks for a second straight year, despite a monster 25 point, five rebound performance by guard Wayne Selden. Georges Niang led Iowa State with 19 points and was named the tournament's most outstanding player.
“They just made a few more plays than us,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said. “We got it tied late and couldn't get a stop on a rebound, and they were able to score. And then we turned it over and they were able to extend their lead to 3. And then basically we had a great opportunity on the layup, Frank (Mason) made a great play, just missed it. And then they were able to win the game.”