The Big 12 became a race again with West Virginia’s 62-61 victory over first-place Kansas, and now the attention shifts to Iowa State.
The Cyclones (8-4 in the Big 12) are one game behind KU in the loss column, but they’re facing their most difficult week with games against two ranked teams on the road, Oklahoma State and Texas. Both are looking to avenge losses in Ames.
It won’t be easy. Iowa State has struggled on the road in league play with a 1-4 record. The one victory, at West Virginia, was a good one. But it was offset with a loss at lowly Texas Tech.
“I’m looking forward to this week,” Cyclones Coach Fred Hoiberg said Monday. “We’ve talked about the issues. Hopefully we’ll come out and compete and have a chance.”
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For the Jayhawks (10-3 in the Big 12), they blew some chances to pad their second-half lead, and the Mountaineers’ Jevon Carter swished a pair of huge three-pointers to erase a five-point deficit with 2 1/2 minutes remaining.
Frank Mason hit a layup on the next possession, but Kansas didn’t score again and had some bad possessions. Kelly Oubre was out of control on a drive. Landon Lucas missed the front end. The Jayhawks couldn’t increase their one-point lead and Juwan Staten made a big-time play, complete with a spin move, for the game-winning layup.
But Kansas still had a chance. The Jayhawks didn’t take a timeout. Jamari Traylor flung a terrific pass to the streaking Perry Ellis, and he looked to be in a good position to make a finger roll type of layup. But he was too far from the rim and had to put a little extra on it to get the ball there.
He should have hit the square on the backboard. Instead it banged off the back iron, and West Virginia, which had lost three of four, grabbed a big victory.
The Big 12 is a race again, and could remain that way down the stretch if Iowa State can shake its road woes.